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It's Pretty Grim': Significant Portion of the World Is Fat, and It's 'Everywhere

"It's frightening."

In this file photo dated Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007, an overweight person eats in London, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. Almost a third of the world population is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis released Thursday May 29, 2014, led by Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, USA, and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Researchers reviewed more than 1,700 studies covering 188 countries covering over three decades and found more than 2 billion people worldwide classified as overweight or obese. The highest rates of obesity were found in the Middle East and North Africa, with the U.S. having about 13 percent of the world’s fat population. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)\n

2.1 billion people.

That's how many out of the world's slightly more than 7 billion total population are considered overweight.

In this file photo dated Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007, an overweight person eats in London, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007. Almost a third of the world population is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis released Thursday May 29, 2014, led by Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, USA, and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Researchers reviewed more than 1,700 studies covering 188 countries covering over three decades and found more than 2 billion people worldwide classified as overweight or obese. The highest rates of obesity were found in the Middle East and North Africa, with the U.S. having about 13 percent of the world’s fat population. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth) Almost a third of the world population is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis released Thursday May 29, 2014, led by Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, USA, and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Data released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which evaluated 188 countries, says one-third of the world is overweight or obese and that it is impacting both the developed and developing countries.

“Obesity is an issue affecting people of all ages and incomes, everywhere,” Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute and co-founder of the Global Burden of Disease study, said in a statement. “In the last three decades, not one country has achieved success in reducing obesity rates, and we expect obesity to rise steadily as incomes rise in low- and middle-income countries in particular, unless urgent steps are taken to address this public health crisis.”

In the study published in the Lancet, men in developed countries had higher rates of being overweight or obese, while in developing countries, it was women who had the health issue more often. Obesity rates in developed countries impacted people of younger ages as well.

Here are more key findings from the study:

  • More than 50 percent of the world’s 671 million obese live in 10 countries (ranked beginning with the countries with the most obese people): US, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
  • The US, United Kingdom, and Australia are among the high-income countries with large gains in obesity among men and women.
  • Over the 33-year period of research, the Middle East showed large increases in obesity. Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait were among the countries with the largest increases in obesity globally.
  • In six countries, all in the Middle East and Oceania – Kuwait, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, and Samoa – the prevalence of obesity for women exceeds 50 percent. In Tonga, both men and women have obesity prevalence over 50 percent.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the highest obesity rates (42 percent) are seen among South African women. 

According to the Associated Press, this study was paid for by the paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A separate dataset released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated only one-half of U.S. boys ages 12 to 15 years old and only one-third of girls met "adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness."

Data from 2012 found 42.2 percent of U.S. youth measured having an adequate level of fitness, compared to 52.4 percent in 2000. What's more, the percentage of youth who had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness decreased as weight increased.  

"It's frightening," Dr. Stephen Pont with Dell Children's Medical Center in Texas told NPR of the CDC's data. Children tend to be less physically active as they become teenagers, Pont says, because there are fewer opportunities for organized sports, and less gym class too.

One last thing…
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