Obesity and its Growing Prevalence Globally

August 23, 2017
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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 CountryPopulation (2009, millions)Estimated No. of Obese (millions)
India9%1,155.30104
USA28%30786
China5%1,331.5066.6
Mexico30%107.432.2
Belgium14.80%10.81.6
UK24.50%61.815.2
Turkey15%74.811.2
Germany13.60%81.911.1
Canada24%33.78.1
France11.20%62.67
Spain14.90%466.8
Italy9.90%60.26
Australia25%21.95.5
Poland12.50%38.14.8
Japan3%127.63.8
Chile22%173.7
Greece18.10%11.32
Hungary19.70%102
South Korea4%48.71.9
Netherlands11.10%16.51.8
Czech Republic17.10%101.7
Portugal15.40%10.61.6
New Zealand27%4.31.2
Israel14%7.41
Austria12.40%8.41
Ireland23.00%4.51
Sweden10.20%9.30.9
Slovak Republic16.90%5.40.9
Finland15.70%5.30.8
Switzerland8.10%7.70.6
Denmark11.40%5.30.6
Norway10%4.80.5
Slovenia16.90%20.3
Luxembourg20.10%0.50.1
Iceland20%0.30.1
Total3,710.30407.8
World Population6,775.206,775.20
% of World Population55%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.”