With over 1 billion people worldwide grappling with obesity, this condition has emerged as the foremost manifestation of malnutrition on a global scale. According to a recent study published in The Lancet, the prevalence of obesity has not only doubled among adults but has also quadrupled among children and adolescents worldwide between 1990 and 2022.

In 2022 alone, an alarming estimate of 159 million children and adolescents, along with nearly 880 million adults, were identified as obese. The World Health Organization defines obesity in adults as having a body-mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30 kilograms per square meter, with criteria varying for children based on age and sex.

The study highlighted significant increases in obesity rates across both genders. From 1990 to 2022, obesity rates surged from 8.8% to 18.5% among women and from 4.8% to 14.0% among men. Similarly, among children, the global obesity rate escalated from 1.7% to 6.9% among girls and from 2.1% to 9.3% among boys during the same period, with upward trends observed across nearly all countries.

Conversely, the study noted a decline in the total number of adults classified as underweight, dropping by more than half between 1990 and 2022. This decline, from 14.5% to 7.0% in women and from 13.7% to 6.2% in men, was mirrored in children as well.

Senior study author, Majid Ezzati, expressed grave concern over the parallel rise of obesity among school-aged children and adolescents alongside persistent undernutrition, particularly in impoverished regions. Ezzati emphasized the urgent need to enhance the availability and affordability of healthy, nutritious foods to combat both forms of malnutrition effectively.

Low and middle-income countries, particularly those in Polynesia, Micronesia, the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa, experienced the most significant increases in obesity prevalence. Surprisingly, obesity rates in these regions now surpass those of many affluent, industrialized nations.

Island nations like Tonga and American Samoa recorded the highest prevalence of obesity among women in 2022, with more than 60% of the adult population affected. Similarly, American Samoa and Nauru topped the list for men. In terms of children, Niue and the Cook Islands in the South Pacific exhibited the highest prevalence of obesity, with over 30% affected.

Conversely, countries like Eritrea, Timor-Leste, and Ethiopia witnessed high prevalence rates of underweight individuals, particularly among adults. India and Sri Lanka reported the highest prevalence of underweight girls, while Niger and India had the highest rates among boys.

Although the United States does not lead in obesity prevalence globally, it has experienced significant increases over the survey period, surpassing some wealthy nations. In 2022, the U.S. adult obesity rate stood at 43.8% for women and 41.6% for men, ranking 36th and 10th highest in the world, respectively. Among children, the U.S. ranked 22nd for girls and 26th for boys.

Addressing this complex health crisis demands a comprehensive approach that prioritizes access to nutritious foods, emphasizing the need for a healthy nutrition transition to combat both underweight and obesity.


Credited Source: USN