Half of World’s 8bn People Will Be Overweight by 2023: Report

By Furney Times 

A new report from the World Obesity Federation warns that the global economic impact of being overweight and obesity could surpass $4 trillion by 2035 if prevention, treatment and support do not improve. The World Obesity Atlas 2023, published by the federation, predicts that over half the global population will be living with obesity within 12 years if current trends prevail.

The study — released to coincide with World Obesity Day on March 4 — projects that the majority of the 8 billion global population, or 51%, will either be overweight or obese by 2035, with one in four people, or nearly 2 billion, suffering from obesity. Childhood obesity rates could more than double by 2035, with rates predicted to double among boys to 208 million, a 100% increase, and more than double among girls to 175 million, a 125% increase. Rates of childhood obesity are rising more rapidly than among adults, it says. 

Lower-income countries are facing rapid increases in obesity prevalence, according to the report. Of 10 countries with the greatest expected increases in obesity globally, nine are from low or lower-middle income countries, all from either Asia or Africa.

The economic impact of obesity is expected to be comparable to the impact of covid in 2020, at almost 3% of global GDP, the study predicts. Dr. Tim Lobstein, author of the report, warns that “the annual economic cost of obesity is already in the trillions of dollars, and yet widespread action to address this crisis remains limited. Obesity is a chronic, relapsing disease, and the economic impact should not be seen as a reflection of blame on people living with obesity.”

The federation is calling for comprehensive national plans to help countries act on new World Health Organisation recommendations for the prevention and management of obesity. The Atlas report will be presented at a high-level policy event on March 6 to UN policymakers and member states.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of addressing the global obesity epidemic. Obesity has been linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and is a major risk factor for covid. The pandemic has highlighted the need for a renewed focus on public health and disease prevention, with obesity recognised as a major threat to global health and wellbeing.

Governments, public health organisations and the private sector all have a role to play in tackling the obesity epidemic. A comprehensive approach that includes prevention, treatment and support is needed to address the root causes of the problem and help people live healthier, more active lives, health experts say. 

Prevention efforts should focus on promoting healthy eating and physical activity, reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods and sugary drinks and encouraging active transportation, such as walking and cycling. Treatment and support services should be accessible and affordable, and should include a range of options, such as counselling, medication and surgery, for people who are living with obesity.

The private sector also has an important role to play in promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing obesity, say health experts. Food and beverage companies, for example, can make healthier products more affordable and accessible, and can reduce the marketing of unhealthy products to children. The media can also play a role in promoting healthy lifestyles, with positive messages about healthy eating and physical activity, and by reducing the visibility of unhealthy foods and lifestyles in advertising.

The World Obesity Atlas 2023 highlights the urgent need for action to address the global obesity epidemic. With the economic impact of overweight and obesity expected to be comparable to that of covid, there is a

The report also spotlights the impact of the pandemic on the global obesity epidemic. The pandemic caused disruptions to food systems and led to changes in physical activity patterns, resulting in an increase in the number of people who are overweight or obese.

“The covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in public health and prevention measures,” said Dr. Sharad Jain, president of the World Obesity Federation. “We must learn from this crisis and take action to prevent and manage obesity on a global scale.”

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