The number of people who are obese is rising faster than those who are deemed underweight, and unless something is done drastically, the goal of having zero-increase in obesity cases by 2025 will be lost, study suggests.

Researchers from the Imperial College London recently published a report in The Lancet that shows the number of obese adults in the world far exceeds those who are underweight. It goes further to indicate that the rise in obesity is alarming as the number has more than doubled in the last few years.

The health index of a person is measured using Quetelet Index (QI) or BMI(Body Mass Index). This is the ratio or proportion of body weight in relation to age and height. An obese person is clinically defined as having QI or BMI of 30 and above. The recommended or normal BMI is from 18.5 to 24.9, while an overweight person has a QI of between 25 and 29.9. A person is said to be underweight if the BMI is less than 18.5.


A few years ago, the number of underweight individuals in the world far exceeded that of obese people; however, this is no longer the case as more-and-more people become obese. This is blamed on poor and unhealthy diet, lack of exercises or activity, lack of access to healthy nutrition, or high cost vegetables or fruits.

The study which was led by Prof Majid Ezzat surveyed results from about 200 million adults (both men and women) with the study period starting from 1975 until 2014. It was discovered that obesity in men had more than tripled while it had doubled in women.

The data was garnered from 186 countries and focused on mature adults regardless of the ages, race, occupation, and other features. In 1975 the number of obese adults stood at 105 million but increased to 641 million by 2014. The number of underweight adults in 1075 was 330million and increased to 462 million in 2014.

The proportion of obese men increased from 3.2 %( 1975) to 10.8% (2014) while in women it was 6.4 %( 1975) but rose to 14.9% in 2014. As of the end of 2014, there were about 266 million men and 375 million women who were obese.

According to Prof Ezzati, 40 years ago the concern was on the number and rising cases of underweight cases and this was attributed to poor nutrition and health. Currently, the worry is on the prevalence of obese adults and this is blamed on poor lifestyle and bad eating habits.

The World Health organization (WHO) aims to achieve zero increase in obesity cases by 2025; however, going by the current statistics, possibility of achieving this goal is in doubt.