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Obesity: More than a billion people are severely overweight

Obesity: More than a billion people are severely overweight

According to a study, the proportion of the world’s population with obesity has risen rapidly since 1990. Adolescents are particularly hard hit.

The number of people who are very overweight – called obesity – has risen rapidly. According to a study in 2022, more than a billion people worldwide were affected. The proportion of severely overweight people in the population has more than doubled since 1990 and has even quadrupled among adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19, reported the specialist journal “The Lancet”. In some wealthy countries and certain population and age groups, the number is now reaching a plateau or falling slightly, said Majid Ezzati from Imperial College in London, for example among women in Spain and France. Finding out the exact reasons for this was not part of the analysis.

According to this study, in Germany the proportion of women with obesity was 19 percent in 2022, which corresponded to 137th place in the country list. Number 1 on the list and therefore the worst affected is Tonga with 81 percent. For men, the proportion in Germany was 23 percent (80th place). Here, the island state of American Samoa is in first place on the list with 70 percent of obese men. Among girls and women up to 19 years old, the proportion in Germany was seven percent (119th place), and among boys and young men it was 10 percent (111th). Place).

What obesity is exactly

Obesity can cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. “Obesity is a chronic disease that is defined as an increase in body fat that exceeds normal levels,” writes the German Obesity Society. Whether someone is affected is calculated based on weight and height, the body mass index (BMI). From a BMI of 30, society speaks of “Obesity Grade I”.

A total of 880 million adults and 159 million children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 were severely overweight. 9.3 percent of boys were considered obese in 2022, 6.9 percent of girls. Among adults, the proportion of women has doubled to 18.5 percent since 1990, and it has tripled to 14 percent of men.

How obesity can be prevented

Obesity can be prevented through good nutrition and exercise from childhood onwards, reported the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, which was involved in the study. Governments should ensure that foods and drinks containing particularly salt, fat or sugar are not sold near schools and that advertising of these foods aimed at children is restricted. They should also run campaigns about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise. The WHO acknowledged that good nutrition can be expensive.

The highest overall obesity rates were in island states in the Pacific such as Niue, Tonga and American Samoa, sometimes over 60 percent. Qatar, Egypt, Chile and the USA were also in the top ten in individual categories. Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Vietnam and Ethiopia recorded the lowest rates. The increase was rapid in the USA, among others: the proportion of women with obesity rose from 21.2 percent in 1990 to 43.8 percent in 2022, and among men the proportion rose from 16.9 percent to 41.6 percent.

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The other problem: malnutrition

The other side of the nutrition problem: At the same time, hundreds of millions of people around the world continue to be affected by malnutrition and undernourishment, the study says, especially in countries in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Malnutrition is responsible for half of all deaths among children under five. Severe obesity and malnutrition are two sides of the same problem: poor nutrition, according to the WHO.

Source: Stern

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