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Over 4bn people may become overweight by 2035 -Report

  • Global obesity cost to hit $4.32tn annually by 2035

A 2023 World Obesity Atlas report, published by the World Obesity Federation, predicts that the global economic impact of overweight and obesity will reach $4.32tn annually by 2035 if prevention and treatment measures do not improve.

The cost, which is almost three per cent of the global GDP, is comparable with the impact of COVID-19 in 2020.

The report says the majority of the global population – 51 per cent, or over 4 billion people – will be living with either overweight or obesity by 2035 if current trends prevail, and one in four people – nearly two billion – will have obesity.

The report shows that lower-income countries are facing rapid increases in obesity prevalence and of the 10 countries with the greatest expected increases in obesity globally (for both adults and children), nine of those are from low or lower-middle-income countries. All are from either Asia or Africa.

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The 2023 World Obesity Atlas is the fifth such report and focuses on the economic impact of obesity.

The report findings show that childhood obesity could more than double by 2035 from 2020 levels and rates are predicted to double among boys to 208 million, which is a 100 per cent increase.

The rates will however be more than double among girls to 175 million (125 per cent increase) and are rising more rapidly among children than adults.

The Chief Executive Officer of the World Obesity Federation Johanna Ralston said: “Let’s be clear: the economic impact of obesity is not the fault of individuals living with the disease. It is a result of high-level failures to provide the environmental, healthcare, food, and support systems that we all need to live happy, healthy lives.

“Addressing these issues will be valuable in so many ways, to billions of people. We simply cannot afford to ignore the rising rates of obesity any longer. We hope that the findings of this latest Atlas will convince policymakers and civil society to take action and make tangible commitments to change in their regions.

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WOF calls for comprehensive national action plans to help countries act on new World Health Organisation recommendations for the prevention and management of obesity.

The Atlas report, will however, be presented at a high-level policy event on March 6 to UN policymakers, member states, and civil society.

Throughout the Atlas report, overweight and obesity are defined using WHO Body Mass Index cut-offs. BMI is used to estimate overweight and obesity and is not a diagnostic tool.

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