LONDONThe obesity epidemic is no longer restricted to the United Statesthe numbers of obese or overweight people in the developing world more than tripled from 250 million to 904 million between 1980 and 2008, according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute. In high-income countries, the numbers increased by 1.7 times over the same period.
According to the report, "Future Diets," more than one-third of all adults across the world1.46 billion peopleare obese or overweight. And where obese people live is changing. By 2008, more adults were overweight or obese in developing countries than in rich countries904 million in developing countries compared to 557 million in wealthy countries.
Diets are changing in developing countries. As incomes increase, people are switching from diets comprised mainly of cereals and tubers to diets heavy in meat, fats and sugar, as well as fruits and vegetables.
"The over-consumption of food, coupled with lives that are increasingly sedentary, is producing large numbers of people who are overweight and obeseprimarily in high-income countries, but also in emerging middle-income countries," the report says.
For these countries, obesity, coupled with excessive consumption of fat and salt, is linked to the rising global incidence of non-communicable diseases including some cancers, diabetes, heart disease and strokes, the report says.
Further, the adaptation of diets around the world to include more meat and other foods poses a challenge future demand for food. "It should be easier to feed the expected global population of 8 billion in 2030, and 9 billion in 2050, if diets are moderate rather than high in livestock consumption," the report says.