The risk of dying from health conditions related to excess weight remains high even if a person has only been diagnosed as overweight, not obese, according to new research.
A global study led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) used data from 1980 to 2015, looking at 195 countries. There were 2,300 experts involved in the research, and the team concluded that more than two billion people worldwide are experiencing health problems as a result of their weight.
Since 1980, obesity levels have grown worldwide, even doubling in more than 70 countries. In Egypt, 35 per cent of adults are obese.
Meanwhile, out of the 20 most populous countries, the US has the highest level of obesity among both adults and children with nearly 13 per cent of the population being obese – approximately 41 million people.
Around 63 per cent of the UK’s population is classed as being either overweight or obese. A worrying 24 per cent of the population is obese (equating to 12 million people), with 7.5 per cent of all British children being obese.
Nearly four million people worldwide died from weight-related diseases in 2015, but only 60 per cent of these people were technically obese. The remaining 40 per cent were overweight, and the researchers hope to highlight that too many people wrongly assume they will avoid health problems unless they move into the official ‘Obesity’ category.
Dr Christopher Murray, one of the study authors, said: “People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk – risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
“Those half-serious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain.”
By eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet, and getting plenty of exercise each week, you can follow a healthy lifestyle and reduce your risk of developing health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist of Public Health England (PHE), said: “Our work to tackle obesity in England is world leading and we want to see other countries following our example.
“We have set clear guidelines for the food industry to reduce sugar in the foods children eat the most of and will openly and transparently monitor and report on their progress.”
The paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.