The number of overweight people has nearly doubled worldwide in the past 40 years. This has emerged from a study by the world health organization WHO. In 2016, 39 percent of the world’s population was overweight, whereas in 1975 ‘only’ 22 percent of humanity was overweight.
For the WHO, people with a BMI of 25 or higher count as overweight. This Body Mass Index does distort and is purely based on height, age, weight and gender. That certainly does not say everything. Take kickboxer Rico Verhoeven, one of the most trained people in the Netherlands. If we do a quick calculation at the Nutrition Center, he has a BMI of over 31 and would therefore be very overweight.
Overweight due to lifestyle
In any case, the number of overweight people has increased significantly. The main reason for this is simply the change in our lifestyle over the decades. That says Matthias Blüher, obesity researcher Der Spiegel. We sit all day and only get up to walk to the fridge and lift weights with a block of cheese. Not much later this disappears behind the teeth, without our body having the chance to burn it again.
But it is not as simple as simply overeating and exercising too little. It also has to do with social differences. People who are poorer and less educated are generally more likely to be obese. In addition, genes also play a major role and many people suffer from emotional eating. For those people, their mental health has a major impact on their weight.
More than half of the Dutch are overweight
In the United States, most people are overweight. No less than 68 percent of the American population has a BMI of 25 or higher. With 57.8 percent, the Netherlands is also one of the top countries. But the islands of Nauru, Palau and the Cook Islands take the cake in the overweight percentage. There, more than eighty percent, or all adults, are overweight. In Nauru this is 89 percent. Social factors as well as genes would play a major role there. In Asian countries the overweight percentage is relatively low, between 20 and 30 percent, also helped by the genes.
Children too fat and malnourished
The skyrocketing obesity figures are worrying many researchers. Obesity is our new pandemic, according to several experts. Indeed, it seems to be heading towards that. Especially since obesity is also increasing significantly among children. Yet this often has to do with malnutrition in children. They do have enough food, but poor families often cannot buy enough vegetables, fruit and meat. As a result, children miss out on essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Millions of children and adults worldwide are becoming overweight because of what they eat, but are still malnourished. Both obesity and malnutrition can lead to diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. According to nutritionist Hans Konrad Biesalski, we can only stop this dangerous development by adjusting the price of food that is full of healthy nutrients to people’s income.
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