Urgent Action Needed As Global Obesity Report Projects Soaring Rates

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Obese Obesity

The recently released 2024 World Obesity Atlas presents a grim reality, indicating a substantial surge in adult obesity unless immediate action is taken.

The report, unveiled ahead of World Obesity Day on Sunday, forecasts an alarming increase from 0.81 billion in 2020 to 1.53 billion in 2035 if proactive measures are not implemented promptly.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which defines obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation posing health risks for individuals with a BMI over 25,” the consequences are dire. In 2019, an estimated five million non-communicable disease (NCD) deaths were linked to higher-than-optimal BMI.

Once predominantly observed in high-income nations, obesity is now pervasive in middle-income countries, with projections indicating that 79 per cent of affected adults and 88 per cent of affected children will reside in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by 2035. Alarmingly, the report states that no country is on track to meet the WHO’s target of halting the rise of obesity by 2030, predicting a doubling of global obesity by 2035.

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

Drawing attention to the severe toll of obesity-related diseases, the report cites 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, the majority being women, the situation demands urgent attention.

CEO of the World Obesity Federation, Dr. Johanna Ralston stressed the imperative need for a paradigm shift in addressing obesity, emphasising the interconnectedness of economic development and obesity trends. Prof. Kent Buse from the George Institute for Global Health dispelled the misconception that obesity is confined to certain countries, advocating for global policy implementation to ensure access to healthy foods and responsive health systems.

The projections outlined in the Global Atlas serve as a stark warning, underlining the severe consequences of inaction as obesity rates continue to escalate worldwide.

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