Obesity is an ongoing health concern, affecting around 13% of people worldwide. Unless further government action is taken, the global obesity rate will rise another 4% by 2025, according to a new report from the World Obesity Federation.
What is more, the report – released in line with the first World Obesity Day – reveals that 177 million adults across the globe will be severely obese and in need of treatment in the next 10 years unless more is done to combat the problem.
Overweight and obesity can raise the risk for a number of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. A recent study reported on by Medical News Today also links overweight and obesity to earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled worldwide. This increase has been largely attributed to a rise in consumption of foods high in fat, an increase in sugary drink intake and lack of physical activity.
Fast food advertising, a rise in sedentary working environments and increased numbers of people residing in urban environments have also been cited as contributors to the obesity epidemic.
In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) created the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013-2020, which aims to encourage governments across the globe to bring rates of overweight and obesity to 2010 levels by the year 2025.
However, Dr. Tim Lobstein, director of policy at the World Obesity Federation, notes that few governments have taken action so far, despite being aware of what needs to be done.
“Governments have accepted the need for regulatory measures, such as market controls, taxes and subsidies, setting standards for catering services and investment in healthy schools – but few governments are implementing these measures,” he adds.
For their report, the World Obesity Federation estimated what the global rate of obesity will be by 2025 if current trends continue.
The report reveals that in the next 10 years, more than 177 million people will be severely obese – defined as having a body mass index (BMI) or 35 or greater – doubling the number of people who were severely obese in 2010.
By 2025, the US will have the greatest number of severely obese people, with over 25 million – an increase of more than 6 million compared with 2014 figures.
The report also predicts that almost 2.7 billion adults across the globe will be overweight or obese – a BMI of 25 or greater – by 2025, increasing by more than 700 million from 2014 figures. Once again, the US will be most affected, with more than 190 million adults predicted to be overweight or obese in the next 10 years.
The World Obesity Federation say the aim of this report is to remind governments of their commitment to the Global Action Plan set by WHO.
Prof. Walmir Coutinho, president of the World Obesity Federation, says:
“The obesity epidemic has reached virtually every country worldwide, and overweight and obesity levels are set to continue to rise.
Governments know the present epidemic is unsustainable and doing nothing is not an option. They have agreed to tackle obesity and to bring down obesity prevalence to 2010 levels by the year 2025. If governments hope to achieve the WHO target of keeping obesity at 2010 levels, then the time to act is now.”
Dr. Lobstein says governments need to implement a number of strategies to combat overweight and obesity, including the introduction of strict regulations on the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, making sure schools promote healthy eating, making healthy foods cheaper and more widely available, and encouraging workplaces to offer healthy foods and promote physical activity.
The World Health Federation also call for health ministries to provide further help to people who are already overweight or obese, such as the introduction or expansion of weight-loss and weight management programs.
Last month, a report assessing rates of obesity across the US revealed that Midwestern and Southern states are most affected. The highest rate of obesity is in Arkansas, followed by West Virginia and Mississippi, according to the report.