Epidemiology of Obesity

What is The Epidemiology of Obesity.

Obesity was rarely seen for thousands of years until the 20th century. It became very common in 20th century and in 1997 the World Health Organization [WHO] formally recognized obesity as a global epidemic. According to WHO’s estimation in 2005, at least 400 million [9.8%] adults are obese. The prevalence of obesity is more in women compared to men. As of 2008, the WHO claimed that 1.5 billion people over the age of 20 are considered obese. As age advances, the rate of obesity increases. It was once considered that, obesity rates were higher in high-income countries but as per present statistics obesity rates are increasing worldwide. Most dramatically, these increases have been seen in urban settings. Only in sub-Sahara African region obesity is not common.

 Epidemiology of Obesity a Worldwide Struggle

United States- In the developed world, the United States has the highest obesity rates. The obesity is long standing phenomenon in United States because in 1962, 45% of American adults were overweight and 13% of adults were obese. The obesity rates in United States have doubled from 1980 to 2002, reaching current 33% of adult population. Obesity varies with age, sex, race, social groups such as minorities and low income groups. As per records of 2007, 36% of women and 33% of men are obese. And, 50% of African American women are obese in United States.  Minorities and low income groups are more likely to be overweight. As per the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in month of January 2010, the obesity rate for American women has remained constant for the last 10 years with only small rises amongst men and children. Obesity is one of the leading health issues in American society and 3,00,000 deaths are caused by obesity in United States.


United Kingdom- The incidence of obesity has increased about fourfold in last 25 years in the United Kingdom. In 1980, 8% of females and 6% of males were suffering from obesity. As of 2002, in the United Kingdom 23% females and 22% males are obese.


India- In India, obesity has been associated with urbanization and modernization. Obesity was most prevalent in urban population of the northern part of India where 12.6% women and 5.5% men are obese. In urban slums 7.2% women and 1.9% men are suffering from obesity. The obesity rates vary with socioeconomic status in India, 10.4% of women with high socioeconomic status are obese compared to 0.9% of obese women in low socioeconomic status. People migrating to urban centers and a rise in wealth, are two major concerns which indicate growing obesity epidemic in India.


China- Due to decreased physical activity and change in dietary habits which occurred between 1980s and 2000s, China is facing over-nutrition challenges currently. Decline in physical activity is because of increasing technology in the workplace and changing leisure activities. Along with declining physical activity, a change to a diet higher in meat and oil, has increased the rates of obesity in China. Overall obesity is below 5% in China but in some cities it is more than 20%.


Canada- In recent years, the number of Canadians who are obese has risen dramatically. In Canada, obesity varies by ethnicity, the obesity rate is significantly high [37.6%] in people of Aboriginal origin compared to the national average. Between 1989 and 2004, obesity has substantially increased in children with rates in boys 2% to 10% and in girls 2% to 9%.


The Epidemiology of Obesity or study of obesity is the first stand in battling this disease. These numbers do not bode well for the future.

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