The problem of obesity is spreading around the world and poses serious health threats. The finding is part of a new special report on obesity, and how to combat it in the medical journal the Lancet. The editor, Dr. Richard Horton, calls obesity a pandemic, and said it is one of the “huge threats facing governments which are likely to derail all their best attempts to improve the health of their nations while at the same time controlling costs.”
Obesity Around the World
The first study says nearly 1.5 billion adults in the world are overweight, and half a billion more are obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) more than 30. That’s equivalent to an adult who's 5 feet 6 inches weighing more than 185 pounds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s BMI calculator.
“It is occurring in just about all countries, apart from the lowest income countries,” says Professor Boyd Swinburn, with the World Health Organizations Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention in Melbourne, Australia. “There is quite a lot of evidence now coming out that this is being driven by changes in the food system,” he says. “The food supply: increasingly processed, available, affordable and highly promoted tasty food.”
The Lancet report says that the obesity rates for different countries vary dramatically due to environmental factors in those countries. For example, they found “traditionally high levels of active transport," specifically bicycling, in the Netherlands contributed to a lower rate. Only 1 in 10 women there were categorized as obese, while high levels of car use in the U.S. contributed to obesity. In the United States one in three women are rated as obese.