Health and Science

More than 2 billion people are overweight or obese worldwide, says study

Key Points
  • 2.2 billion people are overweight or obese around the world.
  • Egypt has the highest percentage of obese adults; U.S. has the highest percentage of children.
  • A rising number of deaths is resulting from diseases attributable to excess weight.
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About 2.2 billion people around the world are either overweight or obese, and it is leading to health problems and a rising number of deaths, according to a new study.

That means about 30 percent of the world's population suffers from excess weight, said the researchers behind the study.

Within the overweight population, 600 million adults and 150 million children have body mass index numbers above 30, which is a metric used to determine obesity.

The results show "a growing and disturbing global public health crisis," according to a news release.

The paper comes from researchers working on the Global Burden of Disease study, a large survey intended to quantify the impact of more than 300 major diseases and injuries around the world. About 2,300 researchers from 133 countries collaborated on the report, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and overseen by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The United States had the highest percentage of obese children and young adults at nearly 13 percent, but Egypt had the highest number of adults at 35 percent. Bangladesh had the lowest rates of obese children, and Vietnam the lowest number of adults — in both cases the percentage hovers around 1 percent.

The frequency of obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries since 1980, the study said.

Cardiovascular disease among obese people contributed to 41 percent of BMI-related deaths, and 34 percent of disability cases, globally. Diabetes was the second-largest cause of death related to BMI, and chronic kidney disease the second-leading cause of disability, the researchers wrote.

They published their results Monday in the The New England Journal of Medicine.