Skip to content

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

The Global Problem of Obesity

More Than Half of Those in Worldwide Study Overweight or Obese
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 22, 2007 -- The obesity epidemic is actually a worldwide pandemic that has global implications for health and disease, new research shows.

In one of the largest studies ever to examine obesity rates across the globe, researchers found that more than 60% of men and 50% of women were either overweight or obese.

They concluded that obesity is a growing problem in all regions of the world, even among traditionally lean Asian populations.

"The study shows that excess body weight is pandemic, with one-half to two-thirds of the overall study population being overweight or obese," researcher Beverley Balkau, PhD, of the French health service INSERM, says in a news release.

Obesity Worldwide

The study involved 69,409 men and 98,750 women from 63 countries across five continents evaluated by their primary care doctors for body weight, height, cardiovascular disease (heart disease or stroke), diabetes, and waist circumference. The U.S. was not included in the study.

Waist circumference is now considered an important marker of obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women is considered a risk factor for these diseases.

The people in the study had visited their doctor on one of two specially designated days in which detailed information on weight, height, waist circumference, and disease history were collected for the trial, providing a snapshot of the prevalence of obesity worldwide.

Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from the weight and height measurements. BMI looks at a person's weight in relation to height and is used to determine obesity and overweight. Forty percent of men and 30% of women met the criteria for being overweight, meaning they had a BMI of 25 to 29.9.

Fully a quarter of men and women met the BMI definition of obese (BMI of 30 or greater), but obesity rates did differ by region, ranging from a low of 7% among men and women living in southern and eastern Asian countries to a high of 36% among men and women living in Canada.

Today on WebMD

measuring waist
4 tips for shedding yours.
apple cider vinegar
Does it have health benefits?
 
Chocolate truffle
For weight loss, some aren’t so bad after all.
woman holding red dress
24 simple, practical tips.
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
fat caliper
Tool
 

Special Sections