A major new study has found that one fifth of the world's population will be obese within ten years. Researchers say policies must be put in place to avoid an epidemic of severe obesity.
Conducted at Imperial College London, the study looked at data from 186 countries. It found that there are now more obese people in the world – 641 million – than there are underweight people – 105 million.
The number of people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) classed as obese has soared over the past decades, the research shows. There was triple the number of obese men and more than double that of obese women in 2014 than there was in 1975.
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The average weight of an adult has increased by 1.5kg (3.3lbs) every decade, says Sky News, with the average BMI rising from 21.7 to 24.2.
If the trend continues at this rate, 18 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women will be obese by 2025. More than six per cent of men and nine per cent of women will be severely obese – meaning their lives are at risk because of their weight.
Figures for 2014 show that China has the largest number of obese people in the world – 43.2 million men and 46.4 million women. The US had the next biggest number, with the UK ranked eighth for men and 11th for women.
Britain has 6.8 million obese males and 7.7 million obese females. When it comes to BMI, the UK has the third highest average for women in Europe and the tenth highest for men.
Professor Majid Ezzati, who led the study, warned: "If present trends continue, not only will the world not meet the obesity target of halting the rise in the prevalence of obesity at its 2010 level by 2025, but more women will be severely obese than underweight by 2025.
"To avoid an epidemic of severe obesity, new policies that can slow down and stop the worldwide increase in body weight must be implemented quickly and rigorously evaluated, including smart food policies and improved health-care training."
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