A quarter of adults clinically obese
6 November 2007, PARIS (AFP) - A quarter of men and women in 63 countries were found to be obese in a massive study of more than 168,000 people, France's top medical research institute said Monday.
6 November 2007
PARIS (AFP) - A quarter of men and women in 63 countries were found to be obese in a massive study of more than 168,000 people, France's top medical research institute said Monday.
Of 168,159 adults aged 18 and 80 examined in 2005, 24 percent of the men and 27 percent of the women were clinically obese.
An additional 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women were classified as overweight according to the study, published last week in the US journal of the American Heart Association.
"This is the largest study of this kind every carried out that gives a 'snapshot' measure of obesity using the same methods across the world," said lead researcher Beverly Balkau, a scientist at France's National Institute for Health and Medical Research.
The data was collected in over two half-day periods in each country.
"The results show that we are facing a true epidemic: between 50 and 66 percent of the world's population is either overweight or obese," she said in a communique.
Balkau called on governments to be more aggressive in promoting physical exercise and balanced diets.
The benchmark for obesity is the body-mass index (BMI), defined as one's weight in kilograms divided by the square of one's height in meters.
A BMI from 18.5 up to 25 is considered in the healthy range, from 25 up to 30 is overweight, and 30 or higher is obese.
The rate of obesity varied from one country to the next, ranging from seven percent for both sexes in East and Southeast Asia to 36 percent for men and women in Canada.
Obesity levels for women topped out at 38 and 40 percent in the Middle East and Africa.
But even in Asia, the study found, the proportion of the adult population that was overweight was roughly the same as in other countries with higher rates of obesity.
Lower levels of obesity in South and East Asia "are not necessarily reassuring, as the impact of adiposity" -- the technical term for excess fat -- "is rising and may be more acute in certain populations," the study said.
Called International Day for Evaluation of Abdominal Obesity, the study showed that the accumulation of midriff fat significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain forms of diabetes.
Fifty-six percent of men have waist lines more than 94 centimeters in circumference (36 inches), while 71 percent of women have bellies that measure at least 81 centimeters (32 inches) around.
For men, an increase in waist size of 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) above normal increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by 36 percent. An increase of 15 centimeters (six inches) in women enhances the chances of heart trouble by 40 percent.
The corresponding risks for diabetes are even higher: 59 and 83 percent.
The study was based on an arbitrary sampling of doctor's patients in both rural and urban areas.
Subject: French news