- Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
- 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
- Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
- 40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2018.
- Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
- Obesity is preventable.
Facts about overweight and obesity
Some recent WHO global estimates follow.
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these over 650 million adults were obese.
- In 2016, 39% of adults aged 18 years and over (39% of men and 40% of women) were overweight.
- Overall, about 13% of the world’s adult population (11% of men and 15% of women) were obese in 2016.
- The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
In 2016, an estimated 41 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese. Once considered a high-income country problem, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. In Africa, the number of overweight children under 5 has increased by nearly 50 per cent since 2000. Nearly half of the children under 5 who were overweight or obese in 2016 lived in Asia.
Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 5-19 has risen dramatically from just 4% in 1975 to just over 18% in 2016. The rise has occurred similarly among both boys and girls: in 2016 18% of girls and 19% of boys were overweight.
While just under 1% of children and adolescents aged 5-19 were obese in 1975, more 124 million children and adolescents (6% of girls and 8% of boys) were obese in 2016.
Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight. Globally there are more people who are obese than underweight – this occurs in every region except parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Diet, ignorance, poverty, US style
Obesity has become a serious health problem in the United States (US): nearly 35% of Americans have obesity. Obesity is not just a problem of “girth control”; it is now considered a chronic disease by the American Medical Association, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American College of Endocrinology, the Endocrine Society, the Obesity Society, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
What Is the Impact of Obesity on Society?
Obesity has taken a toll on health care costs across the country—estimated between $147 billion and $210 billion in direct and indirect health care costs, as of 2010.
- Medical costs for individuals with obesity were calculated to be $1429 higher in 2006 than for those of normal weight.
- Lifetime medical costs for a 10-year-old child with obesity are staggering: about $19,000 compared with a child of normal weight.
- When multiplied by the number of 10-year-olds with obesity in America, lifetime health care expenses are estimated to be $14 billion.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American ate almost 20% more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983, thanks, in part, to a boom in meat consumption. Today, each American puts away an average of 195lbs of meat every year, compared to just 138lbs in the 1950's. Consumption of added fats also shot up by around two thirds over the same period, and grain consumption rose 45% since 1970.
- Research published by the World Health Organization found that a rise in fast food sales correlated to a rise in body mass index, and Americans are notorious for their fast-food consumption ― such food makes up about 11% of the average American diet. Another study demonstrates the full effect added sugars from soda and energy drinks are wreaking havoc on American waistlines. So it is not just how much we eat, but what we eat.
Confusing "Diet" for "Nutrition"
- The role of diet in the U.S. obesity epidemic is obviously major, but it's also complex. Consumers are sent wildly mixed messages when it comes to what to eat and how much. On the one hand, larger portions, processed packaged food, and drive-thru meals are branded as almost classically American — fast, cheap, filling and delicious. On the other hand, Americans spend over $20 billion annually on weight loss schemes, from diet books and pills all the way up to last-resort surgeries like lap-bands and liposuction. It's no wonder we're looking for fast food and fast weight loss options, we spend more time at work and less time in our homes and kitchens than our parents did. Sometimes you only have time to pack a leftover pizza slice and a slim-fast for lunch, irony be damned.
- This schizophrenic relationship with food is easy to explain in terms of marketing schemes. As decades of soda and TV dinners caught up with our waistlines, the U.S. diet industry grew bigger, faster and smarter. Since the 1970s, popular nutrition wisdom and fad diets have flamed in and out just as quickly as the Arch Deluxe or the McRib. In the 1990s, our big enemy was fat. Low-fat and fat-free products flew off supermarket shelves. It took us decades to learn that when something is fat-free and full-flavored, it's probably too good to be true.
- As it turns out, most food companies were just swapping hydrogenated oils and sugar in for the animal fats they removed from low-fat products. Hydrogenated oils are restructured vegetable oils that carry high levels of trans-fats, an amazingly evil type of fat that can raise your bad cholesterol, lower your good cholesterol and increase your risks of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. While somewhat less sinister, added sugar can also wreak major damage on a diet. Technically low in calories, high-quantities of sugar disrupts our metabolisms, causing surges in insulin and energy levels and ultimately contributing to weight gain and diabetes.
- Inactivity is the New Normal
Obesity in the United States is a major health issue, resulting in numerous diseases, specifically increased risk of certain types of cancer, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, as well as significant increases in early mortality and economic costs.
An obese person in the United States incurs an average of $1,429 more in medical expenses annually. Approximately $147 billion is spent in added medical expenses per year within the United States. This number is expected to increase approximately $1.24 billion per year until the year 2030.
The obesity rate has steadily increased since the initial recording of 23% in 1962. By 2019, figures from the CDC found that more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults age 20 and older and 17% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years were obese. A second study from the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC showed that 39.6% of US adults age 20 and older were obese as of 2015-2016 (37.9% for men and 41.1% for women).
Obesity in an adult is defined as a BMI of 30 and above. Overweight in an adult is defined as a BMI of greater than 25 and less than 30, (so 25.01-29.9999). For children, obesity is defined as BMI 95th percentile or greater for gender/age on a growth chart and overweight is defined as BMI 85th percentile to 94.999th%.
Overweight or obese: For the following statistics, adults is defined as age 20 and over. The overweight + obese percentages for the overall US population are higher reaching 39.4% in 1997, 44.5% in 2004, 56.6% in 2007, 63.8% (adults) and 17% (children) in 2008 in 2010 65.7% of American adults and 17% of American children are overweight or obese, and 63% of teenage girls become overweight by age 11 In 2013 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that 57.6% of American citizens were overweight or obese. The organization estimates that 3/4 of the American population will likely be overweight or obese by 2020. A forecast based on early long-term trends suggests that more than 85% of adults will be overweight or obese in the U.S. by 2030.[
Obesity has been cited as a contributing factor to approximately 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year] and has increased health care use and expenditures costing society an estimated $117 billion in direct (preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to weight) and indirect (absenteeism, loss of future earnings due to premature death) costs. This exceeds health care costs associated with smoking and accounts for 6% to 12% of national health care expenditures in the United States.  The United States is known for having the biggest consumption of fast food and has had a major impact on the society. About 71% of Americans are overweight or obese.
There is a strong association between deprivation and obesity. In 2017/18, in both Reception and Year 6 children obesity prevalence was over twice as high in the most deprived areas than the least deprived areas. Severe obesity prevalence was about four times as high in the most deprived areas than the least deprived areas
In 2018/19, the prevalence of obesity in children aged 10-11 was 27% in the most deprived areas and 13% in the least deprived areas. The gap in obesity prevalence between children from the most and least deprived areas increased from 8.5 percentage points in 2006/07 to 13.9 percentage points in 2018/19.