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1/3 of the World Is Overweight, But America Is the Fattest

Picture of Nadia Elysse
US Editorial Team Lead
Updated: 19 June 2017
If your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight failed, you’re definitely not alone. A new study suggests that a whopping one-third of the world’s population is overweight, with certain countries several pounds ahead of others.

“Those half-serious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain,” Dr. Christopher Murray, who worked on the study, told CNN.

The large-scale study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed data from 68.5 million people worldwide between 1980 and 2015 to see if there were any trends. Of the 195 countries analyzed, obesity rates doubled in 73 of them over those 35 years. Even in African countries where the food supply was low, obesity rates increased.

“Its global implications are huge,” Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, told the New York Times. “This study shows what we know: No country in the globe has reduced overweight or obesity levels. This is astounding given the huge health and economic costs linked with overweight and obesity,”

Of note, the United States had the sharpest obesity rate increase of any country studied, up 16 percentage points from 1980. Though the researchers don’t delve deeply into possible reasons for the global weight gain trend, they do cite the general affordability of less healthy food and a shift in physical activity due to technological advancements as possible factors.