Obesity related ill health affecting two billion children and adults

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Globally, over two billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions, researchers said.

Research finds 2.2 billion adults and children are now overweight or obese - 30 percent of the world's population.

When looking just at the 100 most populated countries, scientists found Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the USA had the highest obesity levels, with 27.5, 26.8 and 26.5 percent of people respectively having a body mass index over 30 (the criteria to classify a person as obese).

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and University of South Australia professor of exercise science Kevin Norton said excess weight was a greater problem than obesity in Australia - Australians are nearly double the global overweight average of 39 per cent.

"Although the prevalence of childhood obesity has been lower than the prevalence of adult obesity, the rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries has been greater than the rate of increase in adult obesity".

However, in more recent years, while rates of cardiovascular disease have risen, the number of deaths have fallen.

But no matter which study you look at: they all show that the world population is growing fatter and fatter - and at an alarming rate, as the researchers of the 2017 study put it. Meanwhile, the United States with 79.4 million had the largest adult obesity figure, followed by China with 57.3 million. On the other hand, obesity refers to a condition where a person;s weight may be 20% or more above the normal weight or if he or she has a BMI of 30 or more.

Being overweight - even without being obese - is killing millions of people around the world, according to the most extensive and authoritative study of the global impact ever carried out.

Graphic showing the countries with the highest level of childhood obesity within the 100 most populated nations.

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The lowest rates of obesity were in Bangladesh and Vietnam at 1%.

This is especially concerning, considering that an increasing number of individuals are dying around the globe due to health problems linked to being overweight.

According to the World Health Organization, obesity has more than doubled since 1980, reaching epidemic proportions.

In terms of numbers, the large population sizes of China and India meant they had the highest numbers of obese children, with 15.3 million and 14.4 million, respectively.

In Australia, nearly 30 per cent of adults and 1 per cent of children are obese, the data states.

Peking University nutrition professor Ma Guansheng said in a report on childhood obesity released previous year that the rapid growth of the condition on the mainland was due to behavioural and environmental factors. He echoed others in saying the findings tend to also affirm smaller, more regional studies. It greatly increases one's risks for afflictions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and many types of cancer.

Evidence is building that it's food and not a lack of exercise that is more to blame for the expanding waistlines.

During the past decade, researchers have proposed a range of interventions to reduce obesity.

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