More people in the world are obese than underweight, study finds

There are now more obese than overweight people in the world, with the global obesity figure hitting 640 million, according to a large-scale study.

The extensive study, led by scientists form Imperial College London, with involvement from the World Health Organization, monitored obesity levels from 1975 to 2014. 

The study, which involved more than 700 scientists around the world and gathered data from nearly 20 million adult men and women, found that obesity in men has more than doubled, from 3.2% in 1975 to 10.8% in 2014.

Obesity among women more than doubled between 1975 and 2014, from 6.4% to 14.9%. In numbers, this means there are currently 266 million obese men and 375 million obese women in the world.

In comparison, the number of underweight people have dropped in the same time, from 14% of men in 1975 to 9% in 2014, and from 15% to 10% of women. In addition, 2.3% of men and 5% of women around the world are classed as severely obese.

The study also found that 55 million people, 1% of men and 2% of women, around the world are morbidly obese – a condition where essential daily activities such as breathing and walking becomes challenging.

The territory of American Samoa has the world’s highest average BMI for both men and women, at 32 and 35 respectively.

The US has the highest average BMI of any high-income country, while Japan has the lowest of any high-income nation. The lowest BMI in Europe is found among Swiss women and Bosnian men.