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 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%
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Source: OECD; Population Estimates; MedMarket Diligence, LLC


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