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World heading towards 25% of total population being obese

Published on 23/05/18 at 10:59am

The latest global research paints a bleak picture of future global public health, predicting that almost a quarter of the entire global population will be obese by 2045, based on current trends.

With this rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes is also set to rise to 12% of all individuals having the condition.

At present, global obesity rates rest at 14% of the global population and 9% of individuals are living with type 2 diabetes.

The research, which was compiled through a collaboration between Novo Nordisk, the Steno Diabetes Centre and University College London, used data accumulated through the Non-communicable Disease Risk Factor Collaboration – a WHO database of population information of the world.

In order to counter this potentially disastrous swing towards higher obesity and associated conditions, the researchers suggested action needs to be taken to lower obesity rates. In order to stabilise type 2 diabetes rates across the world, obesity rates need to fall by a quarter – from 14% to 10% by 2045.

Though a drop of 4% may not sound like a huge amount, the challenge varies depending on the different populations within this global scenario.

For instance, in the UK, obesity would have to fall from the current figure of 32% to 24% by 2045, presenting a much more difficult challenge. A similar scenario plays out in the US, where rates of obesity would need to drop by a full 10% (from 38% to 28%) just for type 2 diabetes rates to remain stable.

“These numbers underline the staggering challenge the world will face in the future in terms of numbers of people who are obese, or have type 2 diabetes, or both. As well as the medical challenges these people will face, the costs to countries' health systems will be enormous,” says Dr Alan Moses, of Novo Nordisk Research and Development.

He continued, “The global prevalence of obesity and diabetes is projected to increase dramatically unless prevention of obesity is significantly intensified. Developing effective global programs to reduce obesity offer the best opportunity to slow or stabilise the unsustainable prevalence of diabetes. The first step must be the recognition of the challenge that obesity presents and the mobilisation of social service and disease prevention resources to slow the progression of these two conditions.”

One of the major challenges of both obesity and type 2 diabetes is the cost it places on national healthcare systems. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Novo Nordisk had sales of $3.56 billion across its diabetes care and obesity portfolio.

With diabetes prevalence only set to increase, it looks likely that the burden on healthcare systems will only continue.

Ben Hargreaves

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