More than 2 billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions, according to a new study.
They are dying even though they are not technically considered obese, researchers found. Of the 4.0 million deaths attributed to excess body weight in 2015, nearly 40% occurred among people whose body mass index (BMI) fell below the threshold considered "obese."
The findings represent "a growing and disturbing global public health crisis," according to the authors of the paper published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.
"People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk -- risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening conditions," said Dr. Christopher Murray, an author on the study and Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. "Those half-serious New Year's resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain."
The study, which spans 195 countries and territories from 1980 through 2015, was released today at the annual EAT Stockholm Food Forum, which aims to create a healthier, more sustainable food system. It is based on data from the most recent Global Burden of Disease study (GBD), a systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and population. With more than 2,300 collaborators in 133 countries, the GBD study examines 300-plus diseases and injuries.
The paper includes analyses of other studies on the effects of excess weight and potential links between high BMI and cancers of the esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder and biliary tract, pancreas, breast, uterus, ovary, kidney, and thyroid, as well as leukemia.