Lifestyle & Belief

World obesity levels surge


A cafeteria worker supervises lunches for school children at the Normandie Avenue Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles on December 2, 2010. First Lady Michelle Obama, a champion of measures to fight childhood obesity in the United States, welcomed passage in Congress Thursday of a law aimed at improving the quality of school meals. Michelle Obama called the bill a "groundbreaking piece of bipartisan legislation that will significantly improve the quality of meals that children receive at school and will play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity.


Mark Ralston

Look at the person to your left, now to the person on your right: statistically speaking one of you is likely overweight.

One in three adults around the world — that's 1.46 billion if you're counting — is obese or overweight, according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute.

The ODI said that between 1980 and 2008, the numbers of obese adults increased by 23 percent.

According to the report — called Future Diets — there are now more overweight adults in the developing world than in the wealthier countries of Europe and North America.

That's nearly 1 billion overweight adults in emerging nations (up from 250 million 30 years ago). And it's because we’re all eating more meat, fat and sugar, and less fruit and vegtables.


Since 1980, overweight and obesity rates have almost doubled in China...

Chinese boys do sit-ups at a weight-loss camp in Shenyang on Aug. 3, 2010. (Stringer/Getty Images)


And Mexico.

Manuel Uribe, in Mexico, was dubbed the fattest man on Earth in 2008. (Alejandro Acosta/AFP/Getty Images)


And risen by one-third in South Africa.

People use a new outdoor gym in Soweto, South Africa. (Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images)


Which now has a higher rate than the United Kingdom.

A woman passes a fast food outlet in Bristol, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)


North Africa, the Mideast and Latin America all have rates on par with the United States, home of the world's largest soda cups.

A woman walks down a street with an extra large drink in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


The report’s authors want governments to become more proactive.

First lady Michelle Obama's book about growing vegetables and eating healthy foods. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


South Korea did just that, boosting fruit consumption since 1980 by 300 percent and vegetable consumption by 10 percent.

More than 3,000 housewives make kimchi for the poor in South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)


The report also highlighted Denmark’s ban of trans-fatty acids.

A McDonald's in Copenhagen. (Axel Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

The move made McDonald's in Denmark some of the healthiest anywhere.


If things don't change, there will be an "enormous burden on public health-care systems,” said ODI research fellow Steve Wiggins.

An informative poster about diabetes in Nicaragua. (Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images)