The World Obesity Atlas estimates that by the year 2035, more than 4 billion individuals throughout the world, or more than 51 percent of the total population, will be classified as overweight or obese due to excessive body fat. Although obesity is a problem in every nation, the rates of obesity have risen the most dramatically over the past decade among countries with lower incomes. By the year 2035, the Pacific island nation of Kiribati is projected to have a 67% adult obesity rate, which will be the highest of any country in the world. Some of the elements that are contributing to the worsening epidemic include the proliferation of highly processed meals.
Obesity is a problem that affects not just adults but also children and adolescents. By the year 2035, children and adolescents living in countries with poor incomes will be at the greatest risk of developing obesity. According to Atlas, the obesity rates for girls and boys in low-income nations are expected to climb from 4% and 2% in 2020 to 13% and 6%, respectively, by 2035. These numbers compare to the current rates of 4% and 2%. The economic effect of obesity is also predicted to increase, with current estimates showing that it will cost the world economy over USD 4 trillion in potential income in 2035. This prediction is based on projections that the prevalence of obesity will continue to rise.
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a further worsening of the obesity crisis. As a result of the pandemic, nationwide lockdowns have led to decreased levels of physical activity as well as increased intake of processed foods, particularly among youngsters. It is difficult to prevent or reverse weight gain at the population level, which may lead to even greater rates of obesity and overweight than the estimates that are already in place have accounted for.
There is an immediate demand for financing on both the national and international levels that puts an emphasis on the treatment and prevention of obesity. New guidelines on how to prevent and manage obesity have been released by the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2022, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) also released a revised version of its definition of obesity. These efforts are in line with the priorities that were previously incorporated into the ROOTS framework that was published in 2020 by the World Obesity Federation. That framework emphasized how important it was to invest in healthcare workers and professionals who were trained to prevent, manage, and treat obesity.
The treatment and prevention of obesity can take many forms, such as placing a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks and addressing environmental variables that contribute to an increased risk of obesity. These are just two examples. The prevention of obesity can also be aided by education about good eating habits and the promotion of the greater physical activity. Even while there is no easy solution to the rising obesity pandemic, the execution of national action plans that are supported by public money can go a long way toward tackling the problem.
In conclusion, the rising prevalence of obesity and overweight throughout the world is a huge public health problem that has multiple repercussions, both in terms of health and the economy. Particularly in countries with lower incomes, where the incidence of obesity is growing at alarming rates, there is an urgent need for action to be taken in order to prevent and control obesity. Along with education on healthy eating behaviors and increased physical activity, investing in healthcare personnel and experts qualified to prevent, manage, and treat obesity, as well as increasing physical activity, can help address the growing pandemic of obesity. In order to battle the obesity pandemic and the related negative effects on both health and the economy, it is essential to put national action plans into effect, which should be funded by the public sector.