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Obesity is ‘exploding,’ with more than 12% of people classified as obese worldwide, study finds: ‘Big trouble’

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One in every eight people globally qualifies as obese, according to a new study published in The Lancet on Feb. 29.

As of 2022, more than one billion people — 43% of adults — were living with obesity across the world, according to researchers from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, a global network of health scientists.

The number of obese adults has more than doubled since 1990. 

Among children between ages five and 19, the obesity rate has quadrupled, according to a press release from the World Health Organization (WHO).

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The researchers analyzed data from 3,663 population-based studies with 222 million participants, using different body mass index (BMI) measurements for adults, children and teens.

The data was collected between 1990 and 2022 across 200 countries and territories, according to the findings in The Lancet.

Out of the 200 countries, the U.S. ranked 36th for obesity.

“This new study highlights the importance of preventing and managing obesity from early life to adulthood, through diet, physical activity and adequate care, as needed,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, in the release. 

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“Getting back on track to meet the global targets for curbing obesity will take the work of governments and communities, supported by evidence-based policies from WHO and national public health agencies,” he went on. 

“Importantly, it requires the cooperation of the private sector, which must be accountable for the health impacts of their products.”

Man with obesity

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, said the world is in “big trouble” in terms of undernutrition and obesity. 

“In terms of undernutrition, it is a public health challenge in many places, including Asia and Africa, though overall rates have dropped,” Siegel, who was not involved in study, told Fox News Digital.

“We have far too much processed food with chemicals that produce weight gain.”

“By comparison, obesity is exploding,” he added.

A primary cause of obesity is poor diet, including too many carbohydrates and fats and too few proteins and vegetables, according to the doctor.

“In poor areas, this may be cost-related in part,” he said.

What can be done?

In cases where it’s not an economic issue, Siegel suggested countering obesity by increasing the intake of vegetables, fiber and fish and decreasing the consumption of alcohol, bread, pasta, rice and desserts.

obese child at doctor's

“We have far too much processed food with chemicals that produce weight gain,” said Siegel. “We should fight back by trying to use natural foods (farm to table) as much as possible.”

He also emphasized the importance of eating smaller portions, increasing water intake and exercising regularly to help reduce hunger and cravings.

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“We also have effective weight loss drugs — semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro and Zepbound) — but they should be reserved for those who are truly obese and have failed lifestyle modifications above,” Siegel said.

Older couple eating

“Diabetics must be first in line for these drugs as production shortages are overcome, followed by those most in need, but they can certainly make a difference in terms of improving insulin function, improving efficiency of glucose metabolism and decreasing hunger.”

Obesity is a primary driver of the leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fox News Digital reached out to the study researchers for comment.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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