Thursday, April 18, 2024

Over a Billion People Now Recorded Obese Worldwide, WHO Study Reveals


A recent World Health Organization WHO research on obesity with a global team of researchers paints a concerning picture of global health. The study, published in The Lancet, reveals that over a billion people worldwide are now classified as obese, a considerable increase compared to previous estimates. This shocking number translates to roughly one in eight people globally struggling with obesity, a condition linked to a multitude of severe health problems.

Obesity Surpasses Undernourishment as Global Health Threat

The study highlights a critical shift in the global malnutrition problem. Obesity rates have not only skyrocketed, but they now surpass undernourishment in most countries, including many low- and middle-income nations that previously dealt with food distribution carelessly.

“A staggering number of people are living with obesity,” said Majid Ezzati, lead author of the study and professor at Imperial College London. This finding showcases the urgency of addressing this growing public health crisis.

New Data Revealed By WHO Research On Obesity

The research, considered one of the most comprehensive independent analyses, is based on data from over 220 million individuals across 190 countries. The analysis reveals a concerning trend: while obesity rates appear to be increasing in wealthier nations, they are spreading rapidly in other parts of the world, too.

“In the past, we have been thinking of obesity as a problem of the rich. Obesity is a problem of the world,” stated Francesco Branca, Director of Nutrition at the WHO. This statement presents the universality of the obesity epidemic.

Challenging Double Burden of Malnutrition

The study also identifies a phenomenon known as the “double burden” of malnutrition. This refers to the simultaneous existence of obesity and undernourishment within the same population. This trend is particularly concerning in low- and middle-income countries, where obesity rates are now exceeding those of many high-income nations. Parts of the Caribbean and the Middle East are cited as prime examples of this double burden.

Urgent Action Needs to be taken to combat the obesity crisis. The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, emphasized the need to implement effective measures to handle the global obesity crisis. He highlighted strategies such as taxes on sugary products and promoting healthy school meals as a great solution. Additionally, Dr. Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of cooperation from the private sector, urging them to be “accountable for the health impacts of their products.”

While the study acknowledges the potential benefits of new obesity drugs like Eli Lilly’s Zepbound, concerns remain regarding their affordability and accessibility. Researchers warn that the high cost and limited availability of these medications could intensify existing health inequalities.

Limitations of the Study

The study contains excellent potential for the health benefit of people, but it also acknowledges some limitations. Notably, the data predates the COVID-19 pandemic, and the research relies on Body Mass Index (BMI) as a measure of obesity, which the researchers themselves acknowledge as an “imperfect” metric.

The WHO research on obesity serves as a wake-up call for the international community. With over a billion people classified as obese and the double burden of malnutrition becoming a growing threat, there is a huge need for comprehensive and collaborative Action. From implementing effective policy measures to promoting healthy lifestyles, a multi-pronged approach is essential to limit the rising tide of obesity and its associated health consequences.

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