The tide of health and nutrition has finally turned: When you travel the world, you are now more likely to come across an overweight person than an underweight person.
According to a study by researchers at the Imperial College in London, the average global BMI has skyrocketed along with the number of obese people, which has spiked from 105 million to 641 million in just 40 years. The percentage of underweight people, meanwhile has decreased from 14 to nine percent of men and 10 percent of women.
In other words: There are more overweight people than underweight people alive today.
Professor Majid Ezzati, lead author of the study published in The Lancet medical journal, has dubbed this issue, “an epidemic of severe obesity.”
A healthy body mass index (BMI) is somewhere in the range of 18.5 to 24.9. According to the study, 641 million people worldwide fall into the obese BMI category with BMIs over 30.
The study also took a look at geographic trends of obesity. Unsurprisingly, Western countries —particularly in North America — have the highest rates of obesity. But in South Asia, almost a quarter of the population is underweight, and countries in Central and South Africa also suffer from malnutrition.
“Our research has shown that over 40 years we have transitioned from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight,” Ezzati said.