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Obese 'outnumber the underweight'

04 April 2016 09:31

A report has warned over obesity levels

A report has warned over obesity levels

Obese people now outnumber underweight ones across the world, according to a major new report.

An Imperial College London-led study shows that things have changed radically since four decades ago when underweight people outnumbered obese people by two to one.

The scientists looked at nearly 20 million adults' body mass indexes (BMI) across 186 countries between 1975 and 2014.

The report predicts that no other European country will have more obese women than Britain by 2025 - with nearly four in 10 (38%) hitting this level.

Majid Ezzati, the study's lead author, is calling on governments to take urgent action after warning of a severe obesity "epidemic".

Stat attack

The study finds that:

• the amount of obese adults jumped 510% between 1975 (105 million) and 2014 (641 million)

• the amount of underweight adults rose 40% between 1975 (330 million) and 2014 (462 million)

• no country has a larger obese population than China, with 89.6 million adults

• the US is second with 87.8 million obese people

• Britain has 14.5 million obese adults, split 47% to 53% in women's favour

A weight off people's mind

Obesity can lead to a range of medical problems in the long term.

However, taking out reliable medical travel insurance could help those with related conditions when on holiday.

More stats

• Britain's women have Europe's third highest BMI and their male counterparts the tenth

• but in Bangladesh, India and other countries, being underweight is still a substantial health problem

What the experts say

Prof Ezzati says he hopes the new findings will help transfer more responsibility to national governments from individuals to produce and enforce measures to tackle obesity.

He wants affordable vegetables, fresh fruits and other healthy eating options to be made available to help change the situation.

The Lancet has published the new report.