In the last few years, we’ve heard the term “obesity epidemic“, but a new study published this past Monday, June 12, 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine seems to indicate that it is now an “obesity pandemic”.
Researchers analyzed data from 68.5 million adults and children in 195 countries to assess (1) the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 2015 and (2) the trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between 1980 and 2015.
The “short story” is that a 1/3 of people worldwide are now overweight or obese — put another way, two billion people globally are overweight or obese and are at increased risk of morbidity (chronic diseases) and morbidity (death), as a result.
Epidemiological studies (studies of different populations from around the world) have identified high BMI as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and many types of cancer.
Furthermore, overweight children are at higher risk for the early onset of diseases such as type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) > 30 kg/(m)2 Overweight is defined as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/(m)2
Data showed that in 2015, there were 603.7 million obese adults worldwide and 107.7 million obese children.
The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in 70 countries since 1980, and there has been a tripling of obesity in youth and young adults in developing, middle class countries such as China, Brazil, and Indonesia.
Worldwide, the prevalence of obesity is now 5% in children and 12% in adults — findings that mirror global trends in type 2 Diabetes.
Most alarming was that in 2015;
- high BMI accounted for four million deaths globally
- almost 40% of deaths resulting from high BMI occurred in people who were overweight, but not obese
- more than 2/3 of deaths related to high BMI were due to cardiovascular disease
It is important to note that risk of outcomes related to obesity has not been found to be uniform across populations. For example, it has been reported that at any given level of BMI, Asians have been shown to have a higher absolute risk of Diabetes and hypertension, whereas African Americans have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than other groups.
Addressing the Problem
To address the problem of overweight and obesity both here and around the world, requires correctly identifying its cause and for the last 40 years, excess dietary fat — especially saturated fat has been blamed as the villain and ostensibly responsible for the “obesity epidemic” and resulting “diabetes epidemic”.
But is it?
When one compares the Dietary Recommendations in both Canada and the United States since 1977 to rates of overweight and obesity in both of these countries, it seems apparent that it has been the promotion of diets high in carbohydrate that lies at the root.
In the next article, I’ll take a look at the Dietary Recommendations of the country with the highest rate of childhood obesity and adult obesity in 2015, as well as some of the highest rates of stroke and heart disease per capita, in the world.
How I can help
If you have eaten a ‘low fat diet’ and counted calories (or points) until you are blue in the face and are tired of doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome, why not drop me a note using the “Contact Us” form, above. I’d be glad to explain how I can help you achieve a healthy body weight, while normalizing your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
To your health!
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Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2015 Obesity Collaborators, Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years, N Engl J Med, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1614362
Gregg EW, Shaw JE, Global Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity, N Engl J Med, doi: 10.1056/NEJMe1706095
Karter AJ, Schillinger D, Adams AS, et al. Elevated rates of diabetes in Pacific Islanders and Asian subgroups: the Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE). Diabetes Care 2013; 36:574-9