The World Obesity Federation predicts that 51 percent of the world’s population will be overweight and that one in four people will be obese.
More than half of the world’s population will be overweight or obese by 2035 without significant action, according to a new report.
The World Obesity Federation’s Atlas 2023 predicts that 51 percent of the world, or more than four billion people, will be obese or overweight within the next 12 years; of those, nearly two million, or one in four people, will be obese.
Obesity is rising particularly rapidly among children and in low-income countries, the report found.
Louise Baur, president of the World Obesity Federation, described the data as a “clear warning” and said policymakers needed to take action now to prevent the situation from worsening.
“It is particularly concerning to see child and adolescent obesity rising fastest among children,” she said in a statement Thursday.
“Governments and policymakers around the world must do everything they can to avoid passing health, social and economic costs on to the younger generation.”
The report shows that childhood obesity could more than double from 2020 levels to 208 million boys and 175 million girls by 2035.
The cost to society is significant from the health problems associated with obesity, the federation said: more than $4 trillion a year by 2035, or 3 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
However, the authors said they were not blaming individuals, but calling for attention to the social, environmental and biological factors involved in the circumstances.
The report uses body mass index (BMI) for its assessments, a number calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared. In accordance with World Health Organization guidelines, a BMI score of more than 25 is overweight and more than 30 is obese.
In 2020, 2.6 billion people fell into these categories, or 38 percent of the world’s population.
The report also found that nearly all of the countries expected to see the greatest increases in obesity in the coming years are low- or middle-income countries in Asia and Africa.
The data will be presented to policymakers at the United Nations and member states next week.