Obesity is bad. It really is.

I wrote a lot of titles to this post, and all of them inadvertently had puns in them (Big problem, Massive problem, Huge problem, etc). But they’re all true. A huge review was just published in the NEJM: “Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years

Background: Although the rising pandemic of obesity has received major attention in many countries, the effects of this attention on trends and the disease burden of obesity remain uncertain.

Methods: We analyzed data from 68.5 million persons to assess the trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adults between 1980 and 2015. Using the Global Burden of Disease study data and methods, we also quantified the burden of disease related to high body-mass index (BMI), according to age, sex, cause, and BMI in 195 countries between 1990 and 2015.

This group basically searched Medline for studies that had a nationally or otherwise significant representative estimate of BMI, overweight, or obesity in kids or adults. They identified thousands of unique data sources for more than 170 countries. They used “spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression to estimate the mean prevalence of obesity and overweight”.

In 2015, more than 107 million children and 603 million adults were obese. They looked at time trends from 1980, and found that the prevalence of obesity doubled in more than 70 countries, and continuously increased in most other countries.

Kids have had less obesity than adults, but they’re catching up. High BMI accounted for 4.0 million deaths globally, nearly 40% of which occurred in persons who were not obese. More than

The authors estimated that “high BMI” accounted for 4 million deaths globally. This is about 7% of all deaths worldwide. More than two-thirds of these deaths were due to cardiovascular disease

About 40% of those deaths occurred in people who were overweight, but not obese.

The good news is that since we keep on improving cardiovascular care, we’re keeping up with obesity. For now. But this is an issue where getting a better handle on the problem would have benefits almost too numerable to count.


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