From 1980 to 2008, the mean body mass index around the world increased by 0.4 kg/m2 per decade for men and by 0.5 kg/m2 per decade for women, Majid Ezzati, PhD, of the Imperial College London School of Public Health, and colleagues reported online in The Lancet.
In 2008, an estimated 1.46 billion adults worldwide had a BMI of 25 kg/m2 or higher, including 502 million who were obese.
During the study period, the age-standardized prevalence of obesity increased dramatically in both men (from 4.8% to 9.8%) and women (from 7.9% to 13.8%).
In an accompanying editorial, Sonia Anand, MD, PhD, and Salim Yusuf, MD, DPhil, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said the findings indicated “a tsunami of obesity that will eventually affect all regions of the world.”
But despite the growing obesity problem affecting nearly every region of the world, there were slight overall decreases in systolic blood pressure and fasting total cholesterol level, as shown in two additional reports by Ezzati’s group.