Article Abstract

Health impacts of the global increase in overweight and obesity—a cause for concern

Authors: Barbara E. Ainsworth


In the July 6, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, members from the Global Burden of Disease 2015 Obesity Collaborators present compelling data about the global prevalence of overweight and obesity in youth and adults and the impact of obesity on health outcomes (1). Using a body mass index (BMI) of 25–29 to reflect overweight status and ≥30 to reflect obesity status, in 2015 there were 603.7 million adults and 107.7 children from 195 countries that were classified as obese. This translates into an overall prevalence of 12.0% among adults and 5.0% among youth. The collaborators estimated that obesity contributed globally to nearly 4.0 million deaths annually and nearly 5% of the disability-adjusted life years from any cause. Most of the obesity-related deaths and disability-adjusted life years were from cardiovascular diseases. Diabetes was identified as the second obesity-related cause for deaths and disability-adjusted life years.