Online News 2024


Global Obesity Rates Continue to Rise, Affecting One in Eight Individuals

A recent study published by the Lancet reveals that the number of people living with obesity worldwide has reached over 1 billion in 2022. This represents a significant increase, with obesity rates among adults more than doubling since 1990 and quadrupling among children and adolescents aged 5 to 19. Additionally, the study highlights that 43% of adults were classified as overweight in 2022.

While undernutrition rates have decreased, it remains a significant public health challenge in several regions, particularly in South-East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The study identifies island nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean, as well as countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as having the highest combined rates of underweight and obesity in 2022.

Malnutrition, encompassing undernutrition, inadequate intake of essential vitamins or minerals, and overweight/obesity, poses a major global health concern. Undernutrition alone is responsible for half of all deaths among children under the age of 5, while obesity contributes to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain cancers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has played a crucial role in collecting and analyzing data for this study. The full dataset is now available through the Global Health Observatory.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, emphasizes the importance of preventing and managing obesity from early life to adulthood through measures such as diet, physical activity, and appropriate care. Achieving global targets for curbing obesity requires collaboration between governments, communities, and the private sector, which must be accountable for the health impacts of their products.

Obesity is a complex chronic disease, and effective interventions are well-established. However, their implementation remains a challenge. In 2022, at the World Health Assembly, Member States adopted the WHO Acceleration Plan to combat obesity, which supports country-level actions until 2030. Currently, 31 governments are leading the way in implementing this plan to address the obesity epidemic.

Key interventions outlined in the plan include promoting healthy practices from early life, regulating the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, implementing school food and nutrition policies, enacting fiscal and pricing policies to encourage healthy diets, implementing nutrition labeling policies, conducting public education and awareness campaigns, setting standards for physical activity in schools, and integrating obesity prevention and management services into primary healthcare.

Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Nutrition and Food Safety Department and a co-author of the study, acknowledges the challenges in implementing policies that ensure affordable access to healthy diets and create environments conducive to physical activity and healthy lifestyles. Countries must also prioritize integrating obesity prevention and management into essential healthcare services while taking a multisectoral approach involving agriculture, social protection, and health to address undernutrition. This includes reducing food insecurity, improving access to clean water and sanitation, and ensuring universal access to essential nutrition interventions.