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MENA region has highest prevalence of obesity, says study

Obesity rates have increased dramatically over the last three decades.

MENA region has highest prevalence of obesity, says study
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

One in eight people in the world – a total of more than 1 billion people – is now living with obesity, according to the work published in The Lancet that highlights changes to global trends in malnutrition over more than 30 years. 

The study, led by Professor Majid Ezzati, a research lead at the Jameel Institute at Imperial College London, analyzed more than 3,000 population studies covering 222 million people between 1990 and 2022.

Among the figures found was that the combined prevalence of underweight and obesity was found to be among the highest in countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA,) including Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq, and Palestine.

At the same time, the report highlighted the decline in underweight people since 1990. This causes a double burden of malnutrition, consisting of both undernutrition and obesity.

It is estimated that among the world’s children and adolescents, the rate of obesity in 2022 was four times the rate in 1990. While among adults, the obesity rate more than doubled in women and nearly tripled in men.

Professor Ezzati said, “It is very concerning that the epidemic of obesity that was evident among adults in much of the world in 1990 is now mirrored in school-aged children and adolescents. At the same time, hundreds of millions are still affected by undernutrition, particularly in some of the poorest parts of the world. To successfully tackle both forms of malnutrition, it is vital that we significantly improve the availability and affordability of healthy, nutritious foods.”

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