In a little more than a decade, obese people will be the majority around the world. More than half of the world’s population, or more than 4 billion people, will be overweight or obese by 2035, according to the World Obesity Federation, which is warning countries to act now to prevent "serious repercussions" at a cost of $4.3 trillion globally—or 3% of the global Gross Domestic Product. That's "comparable to the economic damage wrought by Covid-19," per the Guardian. It notes 38% of the world's population is already overweight (with a body mass index of at least 25) or obese (BMI of 30 and up). About one in seven people are now obese, though that’s expected to rise to one in four by 2035.
A new report from the federation finds the fastest rising rates of obesity in children, with rates among boys and girls expected to double from 2020 figures, per the BBC. The expected rate among girls is slightly higher than boys at 125%, per the Guardian. That's a "particularly worrying" finding, says Louise Baur, the federation's president. She adds "governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation" by assessing "the systems and root factors" that contribute to obesity, which is known to raise one's risk of heart disease, cancer, and other ailments.
Nine of the 10 countries expected to experience the greatest increases in obesity by 2035 are low or lower-middle income nations in Africa and Asia—"often the least able to respond to obesity and its consequences," according to the report. This is owing to a shift toward sedentary behavior, more highly-processed foods, weaker food control policies, and lacking health care services related to education and weight management. The federation—made up of health, scientific, research and campaign groups that work closely with global agencies—recommends taxes and restrictions on food marketing be used to push people away from high-fat, high-sugar foods. It also calls for healthier foods in schools. (Read more obesity stories.)