A fifth of people will be obese by 2025 if we keep piling on the pounds

People are plumping up at such a rate that by 2025 roughly a fifth of the human race will be obese, experts have warned.

Friday, 1st April 2016, 9:27 am
Updated Friday, 1st April 2016, 9:31 am
A fifth of all people will be obese by 2025, according to scientists.

Over a period of 40 years from 1975 to 2014 the number of men and women in the world classified as obese soared from 105 million to 641 million, research shows.

With each passing decade, the average person had become 1.5kg (3.3lbs) heavier.

If this trend continues, 18% of men and 21% of women worldwide will be obese by the year 2025, scientists predict.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

More than 6% of men and 9% of women will be severely obese and putting their health at risk.

The clinical definition of obese is a Body Mass Index (BMI), a measurement that relates weight and height, of 30 kilograms per metre squared (kg/m2).

The new analysis of BMI trends, published in The Lancet medical journal, shows that since the 1970s average BMI around the world increased from 21.7 to 24.2.

The higher figure is just below the BMI threshold of 25 where a person is considered to be "overweight".

In 2014 China had the largest number of obese people in the world - 43.2 million men and 46.4 million women. Chinese men accounted for 16.3% of global obesity and women 12.4%.

Next in the obesity league table was the US, with 41.7 million men and 46.1 million women. They accounted for 15.7% and 12.3% of the world's obese individuals respectively.

UK men, 6.8 million of whom were obese in 2014, took eighth place in the table while British obese women who numbered 7.7 million ranked 11th.

The UK had the third highest average BMI in Europe for women (27kg/m2) and the 10th highest for men (24.4kg/m2).

Professor Majid Ezzati, from Imperial College London, who led the research based on pooled data from almost 1,700 population studies and 186 countries, said: "Over the past 40 years, we have changed from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight.

"If present trends continue, not only will the world not meet the obesity target of halting the rise in the prevalence of obesity at its 2010 level by 2025, but more women will be severely obese than underweight by 2025.

"To avoid an epidemic of severe obesity, new policies that can slow down and stop the worldwide increase in body weight must be implemented quickly and rigorously evaluated, including smart food policies and improved health-care training."