The World Obesity Federation's 2023 atlas predicts that 51% of the world's population, or more than 4 billion people, are on track to be obese or overweight the next 12 years.
In a statement, Louise Baur, president of the Federation, said it is particularly worrying as the rates are rising fastest among children and adolescents, according to Reuters. In 2020, 2.6 billion people, or 38% of people worldwide, were overweight. According to the report, compared to 2020 levels, childhood obesity could more than double to 208 million boys and 175 million girls by 2035.
A recent study by researchers from the University of Gothenburg published in the Journal of Internal Medicine showed that being overweight in childhood and young adulthood could increase the risk of arterial thrombi -- that is, clots because of constricted blood vessels with fatty deposits and inflammation.
"Obesity and overweight during puberty seem to have a marked impact on a person´s future risks of venous thrombi," said senior physician Jenny Kindblom, one of the senior authors of the study, as reported by Science Daily.
She also described the findings as a "clear warning," emphasising the need for policymakers to take action. Currently, at least 2.8 million people are dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The health conditions resulting from being overweight will cost the world significantly: more than $4 trillion annually by 2035, or 3% of global GDP.
The authors also make it clear that the report doesn't intend to blame people but aims to highlight societal, environmental, and biological factors involved.
"Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing on health, social, and economic costs to the younger generation," Baur said in the statement.
For data assessment, the body mass index (BMI), calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared, was used. According to the WHO's guidelines, a score of over 25 is considered overweight, and a score of over 30 is obese.
According to the findings, most countries that will witness the biggest increases are low- or middle-income countries in Asia and Africa. The report will be presented to United Nations policymakers and member states next week.
(With inputs from Reuters)