Nature | Trend Watch

More people obese than underweight

Four-decade analysis suggests that one-fifth of the world's population will be obese by 2025.

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TREND WATCH: More of the global population is now obese than is underweight, according to an analysis of data from 186 countries.

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The study, published in The Lancet on 2 April1, compared data from 1975 to 2014 and provides the most complete picture of trends in adult body weight to date. It shows that many people are still underweight in the world’s poorest regions, particularly in some regions of Asia and Africa. But obesity surpassed undernourishment globally, as the world’s population grew 1.5 kilograms heavier per person on average with each passing decade.

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The big fat truth

Since 1975, the proportion of obese men has more than tripled and the proportion of obese women has more than doubled. Obese women outnumbered underweight women by 2004; for men, the changeover occurred in 2011.

By 2025, the authors predict, roughly one-fifth of the population will be obese.

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  1. NCD Risk Factor Collaboration Lancet 387, 13771396 (2016).

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