More than half the world’s population is on track to being classed as overweight or obese by 2035 if action is not taken to tackle this growing public health issue, the World Obesity Federation has warned.
A global study predicts that continued failure to improve the prevention and treatment of obesity could contribute to a total economic impact of $4.31 trillion in the next 12 years, a total equivalent to 3% of global GDP.
With World Obesity Day tomorrow, the World Obesity Federation has warned that more than four billion people would be affected, with the rates of obesity growing fastest among children and in lower income countries.
Professor Louise Baur, president of the World Obesity Federation, said that this data presents a ‘ clear warning that by failing to address obesity today’.
According to the report, rates of childhood obesity are expected to double among boys worldwide by 2035, up to 208 million, and may increase by 125% among girls.
Professor Baur said: ‘It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents. 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.
‘That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity, and actively involving young people in the solutions.’
The report also highlighted the effects of obesity’s prevalence on lower-income countries. Nine of the 10 countries with the greatest predicted increases in obesity over the next 12 years were low or lower-middle income countries in Africa and Asia.
The Federation said that reasons could include dietary preferences for more processed foods, more sedentary behaviour, as well as weaker policies to control food supply and marketing.
However, in discussing the economic impacts, the report said that this was ‘in no way a reflection of blame on people living with obesity’.
Katharine Jenner, director of the UK based Obesity Health Alliance told Nursing in Practice: ‘These figures are all the more shocking because successive UK governments have had many opportunities to turn the tide on obesity but have failed to grasp them.
‘Our country is flooded with cheap, unhealthy, heavily processed food and billions is spent on marketing; this needs to change. This government can, and must, make it easier, cheaper and more appealing to buy healthier food and drinks, and to help people reach a healthy weight, especially children, without delay.’
In the UK, health secretary Steve Barclay recently included obesity in a list of the ‘six major conditions’ which the Government would prioritise.
Mr Barclay said that ‘tackling’ these conditions contributing to the UK’s burden of disease was ‘critical’ to the Governments manifesto commitment of gaining five years of healthy life expectancy by 2035.
This was subsequently followed by a £20m research investment aiming to develop new medicines and digital tools to support weight loss.
‘We’re taking action and investing in life sciences to fast-track innovative treatments and tech to help people achieve a healthy weight.’