Global obesity report raises fear

The late world’s Fattest man Andres Moreno – EPA

New report on obesity raises fear

By Abujah Racheal

The 2024 World Obesity Atlas paints a fearful picture, indicating a significant rise in adult obesity if immediate action is not taken.

The report, released ahead of World Obesity Day on Sunday, projected an increase from 0.81 billion people in 2020 to 1.53 billion in 2035.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is abnormal or excessive fat accumulation posing health risks.

It affects over 25 Body Mass Index (BMI). In 2019 alone, an estimated five million Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) deaths were attributed to higher-than-optimal BMI.

Once seen primarily in high-income nations, obesity now pervades middle-income countries, with 79 per cent of affected adults projected to reside in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) by 2035. Similarly, 88 per cent of affected children are expected to live in LMICs by the same year.

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Regrettably, no country was on track to meet the WHO’s target of halting the rise of obesity by 2030. Instead, the report suggests a doubling of global obesity by 2035, with over half the world’s population exceeding a healthy weight, primarily in middle-income nations where understanding and capacity to address obesity are lacking.

The report also sheds light on Nigeria’s concerning trajectory, with a 5.5 per cent annual growth rate projected for adults with high BMI from 2020 to 2035 and an 8.0 per cent growth rate for children.

Highlighting the grim toll of obesity-related diseases, the report noted over 37,000 stroke deaths, 25,000 coronary heart disease deaths, and 12,500 diabetes deaths in Nigeria in 2019 alone, with over 12 million estimated to be obese in 2020, predominantly women.

Dr Johanna Ralston, CEO of the World Obesity Federation, emphasised the urgent need for a paradigm shift in addressing obesity, stressing the interconnectedness of economic development and obesity trends.

Similarly, Prof. Kent Buse from the George Institute for Global Health underscores the misconception that obesity is confined to certain countries, advocating for policy implementation worldwide to ensure access to healthy foods and responsive health systems.

The projections laid out in the Global Atlas serve as a stark warning, highlighting the dire consequences of inaction in the face of escalating obesity rates.

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