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06-20-2017 | Obesity | News

Global Burden of Disease study highlights ongoing obesity epidemic

medwireNews: The 2015 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study shows that the prevalence of obesity continues to rise, adding to the burden of obesity-related mortality.

The GBD 2015 Obesity Collaborators obtained data for 195 countries from published studies and the Global Health Data Exchange.

They report in The New England Journal of Medicine that in 2015 – the most recent year of the analysis – 5.0% of children and 12.0% of adults worldwide were obese, equating to 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults worldwide.

Obesity was more common among women than men and its prevalence rose with increasing country sociodemographic index (SDI). Across the years of the GBD analysis, from 1980 to 2015, the overall prevalence of obesity increased in almost all countries, doubling in 73.

Although obesity prevalence was highest among high SDI countries, editorialists Edward Gregg (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) and Jonathan Shaw (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) highlight the marked increase among children in lower-income countries.

In particular, they stress the “worrisome” rise in obesity from around 1% to nearly 4% among youths in developing, middle-income countries such as China and Brazil. “An early onset of obesity is likely to translate into a high cumulative incidence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease,” they write.

A positive finding, however, was that the increasing prevalence of obesity was not matched by the increase in obesity-related disease burden. This was due to a declining influence of obesity complications, particularly cardiovascular disease, on mortality, which the study researchers attribute to “factors such as improved treatment or changes in other risks” mitigating their impact on mortality.

However, Gregg and Shaw note that “even this success brings a new burden, since the mix of increased prevalence and decreased mortality leads to more years spent with obesity and more time for the damaging coexisting illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, to develop.”

And the impact of an elevated body mass index (BMI) remained high, contributing to 4 million deaths in 2015, accounting for 7.1% of mortality overall, and contributing to 120 million life–years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. The researchers note that 39% of the deaths and 37% of the life–years lost occurred in people with a BMI below 30 kg/m2.

By Eleanor McDermid

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare. © 2017 Springer Healthcare part of the Springer Nature group

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