Public Health

Obesity and its Growing Prevalence Globally

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Overweight and obesity were once considered a problem only in high-income countries. This is no longer the case: overweight and obesity are dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in cities. The WHO’s latest projections indicate that globally in 2005 about 1.6 billion adults (age 15+) were overweight, and at least 400 million adults were obese. WHO further projects that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.

Population weight gain is increasing despite the best efforts of health authorities to teach healthy eating habits, or the easy availability of commercial weight-loss and low-fat food products. This suggests that an analysis of obesity requires more than an understanding of individual dietary patterns; it must also take into consideration the likelihood that while society may discourage fatness discursively, it might also encourage it in practice.

Below is illustrated the global picture of obesity, with rates and prevalence of obesity by country.

Populations and Rates of Obesity of Selected Countries, 2009

Obesity Rates by Country Population (2009, millions) Estimated No. of Obese (millions)
India 9% 1,155.30 104
USA 28% 307 86
China 5% 1,331.50 66.6
Mexico 30% 107.4 32.2
Belgium 14.80% 10.8 1.6
UK 24.50% 61.8 15.2
Turkey 15% 74.8 11.2
Germany 13.60% 81.9 11.1
Canada 24% 33.7 8.1
France 11.20% 62.6 7
Spain 14.90% 46 6.8
Italy 9.90% 60.2 6
Australia 25% 21.9 5.5
Poland 12.50% 38.1 4.8
Japan 3% 127.6 3.8
Chile 22% 17 3.7
Greece 18.10% 11.3 2
Hungary 19.70% 10 2
South Korea 4% 48.7 1.9
Netherlands 11.10% 16.5 1.8
Czech Republic 17.10% 10 1.7
Portugal 15.40% 10.6 1.6
New Zealand 27% 4.3 1.2
Israel 14% 7.4 1
Austria 12.40% 8.4 1
Ireland 23.00% 4.5 1
Sweden 10.20% 9.3 0.9
Slovak Republic 16.90% 5.4 0.9
Finland 15.70% 5.3 0.8
Switzerland 8.10% 7.7 0.6
Denmark 11.40% 5.3 0.6
Norway 10% 4.8 0.5
Slovenia 16.90% 2 0.3
Luxembourg 20.10% 0.5 0.1
Iceland 20% 0.3 0.1
Total 3,710.30 407.8
World Population 6,775.20 6,775.20
% of World Population 55% 6%

Source: OECD; Population Estimates; MedMarket Diligence, LLC

See also Report #S835, “Products, Technologies and Markets Worldwide for the Clinical Management of Obesity, 2011-2019.”

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About author
I serve the interests of medical technology company decision-makers, venture-capitalists, and others with interests in medtech producing worldwide analyses of medical technology markets for my audience of mostly medical technology companies (but also rapidly growing audience of biotech, VC, and other healthcare decision-makers). I have a small staff and go to my industry insiders (or find new ones as needed) to produce detailed, reality-grounded analyses of current and potential markets and opportunities. I am principally interested in those core clinical applications served by medical devices, which are expanding to include biomaterials, drug-device hybrids and other non-device technologies either competing head-on with devices or being integrated with devices in product development. The effort and pain of making every analysis global in scope is rewarded by my audience's loyalty, since in the vast majority of cases they too have global scope in their businesses. Specialties: Business analysis through syndicated reports, and select custom engagements, on medical technology applications and markets in general/abdominal/thoracic surgery, interventional cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, patient monitoring/management, wound management, cell therapy, tissue engineering, gene therapy, nanotechnology, and others.
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