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One fifth of world's population will be obese by 2025, experts warn

GDN Online Desk

People around the world are gaining weight at such an alarming rate, experts have warned, that within ten years one fifth of the world's population will be obese.

New analysis of Body Mass Index (BMI) trends, a measurement that relates height to weight, found that from 1975 to 2014, the number of adults in the world classified as obese increased from 105 million to 641 million.

It found that since the 1970s the average BMI increased from 21.7 to 24.2, with the average person becoming 1.5kg (3.3 pounds) heavier with each passing decade. If this trend continues, scientists predict 18% of men and 21% of women worldwide will be obese by the year 2025.

The higher figure is just below the BMI threshold of 25 where a person is considered to be "overweight".

In 2014 China had the largest number of obese people in the world with men accounting for 16.3% of global obesity and women 12.4%. Followed by the US with 15.7% and 12.3% of the world's obese individuals respectively.

Professor Majid Ezzati, from Imperial College London, who led the research based on pooled data from almost 1,700 population studies and 186 countries, said: "Over the past 40 years, we have changed from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight.

"To avoid an epidemic of severe obesity, new policies that can slow down and stop the worldwide increase in body weight must be implemented quickly and rigorously evaluated."

“The recent announcement of a sugar tax in the UK is a welcome start. We look forward to seeing a rigorous evaluation of its impact so that other countries can benefit from this excellent UK example."

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