A new study revealed that the number of people in the world living with high body-mass index has exceeded two billion.
The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that obesity continues to rise in many countries, even in regions that were historically known for food shortages. This highlights the need to counteract the most common cause of obesity, including poor diets and reduced physical activity.
"The change in physical activity preceded the global increase in obesity," said Dr. Ashkan Afshin, assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and lead author of the study, in a report from New York Times. "We have more processed food, more energy-dense food, more intense marketing of food products, and these products are more available and more accessible,"
For the study, the researchers analyzed the data of 68.5 million people included in the recent Global Burden of Disease study. By doing so, the researchers were able to determine the prevalence of overweight of and obesity among children and adults between 1980 and 2015. Additionally, data sets and methods of the Global Burden of Disease study were also used to quantify the burden of disease related to high BMI, in accordance to the age, sex, cause and BMI in 195 countries.
The researchers observed that 2.2 billion adults and children worldwide were either overweight or obese. This mean that over 10 percent of the world's population have higher than normal BMI.
In this study, the researchers defined overweight as having a BMI of 25 to 29. On the other hand, people classified as obese have a BMI of 30 and higher.
Out of those people with higher than normal BMI, over 710 million of them were classified as obese. Among those, 107.7 million were children, while the remaining 603.7 million were adults. Despite having lower prevalence of obesity, children have a greater rate of increase compared to adults.
People who have higher than normal BMI are in serious health risk. The researchers noted that 4 million deaths globally could be linked back to high BMI. Out of those deaths, 40 percent were only considered to be overweight. People with high BMI were most likely to die due to cardiovascular diseases.
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