Without a doubt, the world is not getting slimmer. According to a new study conducted by Imperial College London, we’ve reached a new milestone: for the first time, there are more obese people worldwide than underweight.
The unsettling findings are based on a major research study conducted between 1975 and 2014; scientists compared the BMI data of nearly 20 million people in 186 different countries.
The BMI (body mass index) is a measurement of the ratio between height and weight, and it allows researchers to classify different types of people – underweight, normal, overweight and obese are the most prominent.
Based on the obesity rates extrapolated from the analyzed data, the researchers reported that there has been an incredible spike in the number of obese people, which has risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014.
Over the same period, the number of underweight people has also grown from 330 million to 462 million. Data shows that only 3.2 percent of men were classified as obese in 1975, compared to the 10.8 percent in 2014. Women also saw a BMI increase on average, as shown by the rise in percentage from 6.4 to 14.9.
On the other hand, the study also found that the number of those being reported as underweight has dropped over the same period – from 14 percent to 9 percent in men and from 15 percent to 10 percent in women.
At the end of the study, which was published in The Lancet, there were 46.1 million obese women and 41.7 million obese men in the U.S.
Some scientists have argued that BMI is not a perfect measurement unit for assessing someone’s weight, but this is the current definition of obesity used by medical professionals, so it’s the best we have.
At any rate, rather than directing their findings at particular individuals, researchers are hoping to get the attention of the government and help spur some action in national health policies.
The U.S. is not the only nation dealing with an obesity epidemic; the study showed that UK and China are not far behind, which means they need to take action, as well.
Professor Majid Ezzati, one of the study’s researchers, said that “We hope these findings create an imperative to shift responsibility from the individual to governments and to develop and implement policies to address obesity.”
One of the goals of the World Health Organization is to ensure that obesity doesn’t surpass the 2010 levels by 2025. However, at the current rate, researchers claim that target will be virtually impossible.
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