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2.2 billion people are overweight or obese, according to new study

More than 2 billion people are overweight worldwide, with the U.S. paving the way
Fit Fat Obesity Research
Photo: Getty Images

It’s a seemingly innocuous, technical-sounding title: “Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years.” But let’s not be vague: Around the world, we’re facing "a growing and disturbing global public health crisis," as the authors of the paper put it. And the implications of this new study that looked at data from 68.5 million people published in The New England Journal of Medicineare massive.

You may think of obesity as a primarily American thing, but the epidemic is not confined to US borders, as the research found that 10% of the world’s population is now obese. The harrowing research reviewing data from 195 countries was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The scientists found that rates of obesity at least doubled in 73 countries from 1980 to 2015 and has “has continuously increased in most other countries.” Based on the study (which, by the way, is the largest ever of its kind), about 30% of the entire global population suffers from weight problems, with 10% meeting the criteria for being obese.

Alarmingly “the most worrisome finding” (as stated in an editorial that was released with the report), obesity has tripled in children and young adults in countries like Brazil, Indonesia and China, which have many poor regions where food was once (and is still) scarce. These findings put the counties’ youth at risk for developing many other related health problems like diabetes, heart disease and more.

According to some of the saddest number crunching found in the study, out of the 20 most population-dense countries around the globe, the highest levels of childhood and young adult obesity was in America, with nearly 13% of our youth struggling with the problem. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the good ole USA also has the most obese adults, with a whopping 79.4 million individuals fitting the bill.