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National, regional, and global trends in adult overweight and obesity prevalences

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      BackgroundOverweight and obesity prevalence are commonly used for public and policy communication of the extent of the obesity epidemic, yet comparable estimates of trends in overweight and obesity prevalence by country are not available.MethodsWe estimated trends between 1980 and 2008 in overweight and obesity prevalence and their uncertainty for adults 20 years of age and older in 199 countries and territories. Data were from a previous study, which used a Bayesian hierarchical model to estimate mean body mass index (BMI) based on published and unpublished health examination surveys and epidemiologic studies. Here, we used the estimated mean BMIs in a regression model to predict overweight and obesity prevalence by age, country, year, and sex. The uncertainty of the estimates included both those of the Bayesian hierarchical model and the uncertainty due to cross-walking from mean BMI to overweight and obesity prevalence.ResultsThe global age-standardized prevalence of obesity nearly doubled from 6.4% (95% uncertainty interval 5.7-7.2%) in 1980 to 12.0% (11.5-12.5%) in 2008. Half of this rise occurred in the 20 years between 1980 and 2000, and half occurred in the 8 years between 2000 and 2008. The age-standardized prevalence of overweight increased from 24.6% (22.7-26.7%) to 34.4% (33.2-35.5%) during the same 28-year period. In 2008, female obesity prevalence ranged from 1.4% (0.7-2.2%) in Bangladesh and 1.5% (0.9-2.4%) in Madagascar to 70.4% (61.9-78.9%) in Tonga and 74.8% (66.7-82.1%) in Nauru. Male obesity was below 1% in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia, and was highest in Cook Islands (60.1%, 52.6-67.6%) and Nauru (67.9%, 60.5-75.0%).ConclusionsGlobally, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased since 1980, and the increase has accelerated. Although obesity increased in most countries, levels and trends varied substantially. These data on trends in overweight and obesity may be used to set targets for obesity prevalence as requested at the United Nations high-level meeting on Prevention and Control of NCDs.

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      Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2008.

      The prevalence of obesity increased in the United States between 1976-1980 and 1988-1994 and again between 1988-1994 and 1999-2000. To examine trends in obesity from 1999 through 2008 and the current prevalence of obesity and overweight for 2007-2008. Analysis of height and weight measurements from 5555 adult men and women aged 20 years or older obtained in 2007-2008 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative sample of the US population. Data from the NHANES obtained in 2007-2008 were compared with results obtained from 1999 through 2006. Estimates of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults. Overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25.0 to 29.9. Obesity was defined as a BMI of 30.0 or higher. In 2007-2008, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity was 33.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 31.6%-36.0%) overall, 32.2% (95% CI, 29.5%-35.0%) among men, and 35.5% (95% CI, 33.2%-37.7%) among women. The corresponding prevalence estimates for overweight and obesity combined (BMI > or = 25) were 68.0% (95% CI, 66.3%-69.8%), 72.3% (95% CI, 70.4%-74.1%), and 64.1% (95% CI, 61.3%-66.9%). Obesity prevalence varied by age group and by racial and ethnic group for both men and women. Over the 10-year period, obesity showed no significant trend among women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for 2007-2008 vs 1999-2000, 1.12 [95% CI, 0.89-1.32]). For men, there was a significant linear trend (AOR for 2007-2008 vs 1999-2000, 1.32 [95% CI, 1.12-1.58]); however, the 3 most recent data points did not differ significantly from each other. In 2007-2008, the prevalence of obesity was 32.2% among adult men and 35.5% among adult women. The increases in the prevalence of obesity previously observed do not appear to be continuing at the same rate over the past 10 years, particularly for women and possibly for men.
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        National, regional, and global trends in body-mass index since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 960 country-years and 9·1 million participants.

        Excess bodyweight is a major public health concern. However, few worldwide comparative analyses of long-term trends of body-mass index (BMI) have been done, and none have used recent national health examination surveys. We estimated worldwide trends in population mean BMI. We estimated trends and their uncertainties of mean BMI for adults 20 years and older in 199 countries and territories. We obtained data from published and unpublished health examination surveys and epidemiological studies (960 country-years and 9·1 million participants). For each sex, we used a Bayesian hierarchical model to estimate mean BMI by age, country, and year, accounting for whether a study was nationally representative. Between 1980 and 2008, mean BMI worldwide increased by 0·4 kg/m(2) per decade (95% uncertainty interval 0·2-0·6, posterior probability of being a true increase >0·999) for men and 0·5 kg/m(2) per decade (0·3-0·7, posterior probability >0·999) for women. National BMI change for women ranged from non-significant decreases in 19 countries to increases of more than 2·0 kg/m(2) per decade (posterior probabilities >0·99) in nine countries in Oceania. Male BMI increased in all but eight countries, by more than 2 kg/m(2) per decade in Nauru and Cook Islands (posterior probabilities >0·999). Male and female BMIs in 2008 were highest in some Oceania countries, reaching 33·9 kg/m(2) (32·8-35·0) for men and 35·0 kg/m(2) (33·6-36·3) for women in Nauru. Female BMI was lowest in Bangladesh (20·5 kg/m(2), 19·8-21·3) and male BMI in Democratic Republic of the Congo 19·9 kg/m(2) (18·2-21·5), with BMI less than 21·5 kg/m(2) for both sexes in a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and east, south, and southeast Asia. The USA had the highest BMI of high-income countries. In 2008, an estimated 1·46 billion adults (1·41-1·51 billion) worldwide had BMI of 25 kg/m(2) or greater, of these 205 million men (193-217 million) and 297 million women (280-315 million) were obese. Globally, mean BMI has increased since 1980. The trends since 1980, and mean population BMI in 2008, varied substantially between nations. Interventions and policies that can curb or reverse the increase, and mitigate the health effects of high BMI by targeting its metabolic mediators, are needed in most countries. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WHO. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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          Body-mass index and cause-specific mortality in 900 000 adults: collaborative analyses of 57 prospective studies

          Summary Background The main associations of body-mass index (BMI) with overall and cause-specific mortality can best be assessed by long-term prospective follow-up of large numbers of people. The Prospective Studies Collaboration aimed to investigate these associations by sharing data from many studies. Methods Collaborative analyses were undertaken of baseline BMI versus mortality in 57 prospective studies with 894 576 participants, mostly in western Europe and North America (61% [n=541 452] male, mean recruitment age 46 [SD 11] years, median recruitment year 1979 [IQR 1975–85], mean BMI 25 [SD 4] kg/m2). The analyses were adjusted for age, sex, smoking status, and study. To limit reverse causality, the first 5 years of follow-up were excluded, leaving 66 552 deaths of known cause during a mean of 8 (SD 6) further years of follow-up (mean age at death 67 [SD 10] years): 30 416 vascular; 2070 diabetic, renal or hepatic; 22 592 neoplastic; 3770 respiratory; 7704 other. Findings In both sexes, mortality was lowest at about 22·5–25 kg/m2. Above this range, positive associations were recorded for several specific causes and inverse associations for none, the absolute excess risks for higher BMI and smoking were roughly additive, and each 5 kg/m2 higher BMI was on average associated with about 30% higher overall mortality (hazard ratio per 5 kg/m2 [HR] 1·29 [95% CI 1·27–1·32]): 40% for vascular mortality (HR 1·41 [1·37–1·45]); 60–120% for diabetic, renal, and hepatic mortality (HRs 2·16 [1·89–2·46], 1·59 [1·27–1·99], and 1·82 [1·59–2·09], respectively); 10% for neoplastic mortality (HR 1·10 [1·06–1·15]); and 20% for respiratory and for all other mortality (HRs 1·20 [1·07–1·34] and 1·20 [1·16–1·25], respectively). Below the range 22·5–25 kg/m2, BMI was associated inversely with overall mortality, mainly because of strong inverse associations with respiratory disease and lung cancer. These inverse associations were much stronger for smokers than for non-smokers, despite cigarette consumption per smoker varying little with BMI. Interpretation Although other anthropometric measures (eg, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio) could well add extra information to BMI, and BMI to them, BMI is in itself a strong predictor of overall mortality both above and below the apparent optimum of about 22·5–25 kg/m2. The progressive excess mortality above this range is due mainly to vascular disease and is probably largely causal. At 30–35 kg/m2, median survival is reduced by 2–4 years; at 40–45 kg/m2, it is reduced by 8–10 years (which is comparable with the effects of smoking). The definite excess mortality below 22·5 kg/m2 is due mainly to smoking-related diseases, and is not fully explained. Funding UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, EU BIOMED programme, US National Institute on Aging, and Clinical Trial Service Unit (Oxford, UK).

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
            [2 ]Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA
            [3 ]Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA
            [4 ]Independent consultant, Geneva, Switzerland
            [5 ]Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
            [6 ]Department of Statistics, University of California, Berkeley, USA
            [7 ]Noncommunicable Diseases Research Centre, Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
            [8 ]Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MRC-HPA Center for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
            Popul Health Metr
            Popul Health Metr
            Population Health Metrics
            BioMed Central
            20 November 2012
            : 10
            : 22
            Copyright ©2012 Stevens et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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