The World Obesity Federation expects 51% of the global population to be overweight, with childhood obesity set to more than double from 2020 levels
Over 1.5 billion adults and nearly 400 million children could be overweight or living with obesity by 2035 with rates rising fastest among children.
The World Obesity Federation’s World Obesity Atlas 2023 expects 51% of the global population to be overweight, and 25% to be obese by 2035. Childhood obesity will more than double from 2020 levels - by 100% in boys to 208 million, and 125% in girls to 175 million.
“It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents,” said Professor Louise Baur, World Obesity Federation president. “Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation.”
Nine of the 10 countries with the greatest predicted increases are low or lower-middle-income states in Africa and Asia, “where scarce resources and lack of preparedness will create a perfect storm that will negatively impact people living with obesity the most," said Rachel Jackson-Leach, Director of Science at World Obesity Federation.
“The economic impact of obesity…is a result of high-level failures to provide the environmental, healthcare, food, and support systems that we all need to live happy, healthy lives,” added Johanna Ralston, CEO, World Obesity Federation. “Addressing these issues will be valuable in so many ways, to billions of people. We simply cannot afford to ignore the rising rates of obesity any longer.”
The global cost of obesity will total over £3.3 trillion annually – 3% of global Gross Domestic Product, by 2035 – according to the report, comparable to the impact of COVID-19 in 2020. Every region will experience an increase, with the Americas bearing the highest costs as a proportion of GDP (3.7%) and the Western Pacific region having the highest total costs.
In England, where 25.9% of adults are obese, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is recommending the use of the weight-loss drug, semaglutide.
The report highlights the importance of developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity. In England, where 25.9% of adults are obese and a further 37.9% are overweight but not obese, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is recommending the use of the weight-loss drug, semaglutide (under the brand name Wegovy).
The drug, which will be available as an injection on the NHS, could reduce their weight by 10% when used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
“For some people losing weight is a real challenge which is why a medicine like semaglutide is a welcome option,” said Helen Knight, Director of Medicines Evaluation at NICE. But it won’t be available to everyone, she adds: there are specific recommendations for its use, and it can only be used for a maximum of two years.
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