The New England Journal of Medicine has just published the results of an extensive study of obesity in the world. The study is the largest systematic analysis of obesity data ever done, with researchers combing the medical literature and crunching thousands of data sets on obesity in adults and children covering 195 countries. What did they find?
More than 10 percent of the world's population — 107.7 million children and 603.7 adults — is now obese. This obesity contributed to 4 million deaths globally — or 7 percent of the deaths from any cause — in 2015. Most of those deaths were caused by cardiovascular disease, with diabetes following closely behind, along with kidney disease and cancers. 4 million is a big number. It is higher than the deaths caused by traffic accidents, Alzheimer’s, or other deadly issues that get a lot of airtime, like terrorism, combined.
Much of the blame for this rise is based on cheap fast food, such as that found at places like McDonalds where the food is cheap, calorie-dense and the drinks lacking in nutrients. And we're also simply eating more calories per person: Portion sizes have gone up, and eating outside of the home often means heavier, unhealthier foods, and sugary drinks to wash them down.
Of the 20 largest countries in the world, the US had the worst rate of childhood obesity, with 13 percent of children now obese. Egypt had the highest adult obesity prevalence, where 35 percent of adults are now obese.