2.16 Billion Overweight Individuals in 2030?

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”, Neils Bohr (Danish Physicist)

Recently (as discussed in my blog), rather optimistic results have surfaced suggesting that at least in the US, the obesity epidemic has perhaps peaked.

However, even if true, this is hardly a reason to stop worrying about obesity, because elsewhere the obesity epidemic appears to be progressing just fine.

So where will we be in 2030 (barely two decades from now) if the global trend continues unabated?

This was the topic of a recent analysis by Tanika Kelly and colleagues from Tulane University, New Orleans just published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Kelly and colleagues first identified published reports on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in representative population samples from 106 countries, which cover approximately 88% of the world population. They then applied the sex- and age-specific prevalence of overweight and obesity to the 2005 population to estimate the numbers of overweight and obese individuals in each country, each world region and the entire world. In addition, they applied these prevalences, with and without adjusting for secular trends, to forecast the number of overweight and obese individuals in 2030.

In 2005, 937 million or 23.2% of the world’s adult population was overweight (24.0% in men and 22.4% in women) and 396 million or 9.8% was obese (7.7% in men and 11.9% in women). By 2030, the respective number of overweight and obese adults was projected to be 1.35 billion and 573 million individuals without adjusting for secular trends. If recent secular trends continue unabated, the absolute numbers were projected to total 2.16 billion overweight and 1.12 billion obese individuals.

Not surprisingly the authors concluded that overweight and obesity are important clinical and public health burdens worldwide.

If anyone is wondering about what exactly is driving the global epidemics of diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and cancer – look no further. The simple message is that If policy makers and health care systems don’t get a handle on obesity prevention and treatment in the foreseeable future, all other efforts are likely for nought.

Toronto, Ontario