The number of adults who are obese or overweight all over the world has increased by 23 percent, while the number has almost quadrupled in the developing world since 1980, a report from a UK think tank claims.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, said that one in three people worldwide were now overweight. A "huge increase" in heart attacks, strokes and diabetes has resulted due to the quantum leap in the number of overweight people, the report suggests.
The study also suggests that the geography of obesity is shifting with more adults overweight or obese in developing countries than in rich countries. North Africa and the Middle East, and Latin America now have almost the same percentage of overweight or obese people as Europe (around 58 percent).
While North America is still the most obese continent with around 70 percent adults overweight, regions such as Australasia and Southern Latin America are only a notch below with 63 percent.
In the developing world, the number of overweight or obese adults has almost quadrupled from 250 million in 1980 to 904 in 2008.
The ODI's Future Diets report says that the overall increase of obesity is due to changing diets, which has seen a shift from eating cereals and grains to consumption of sugar, fats, oils and meat products. The consumption of sugar and sweeteners has risen by over 20 percent per person between 1961 and 2009.
In South East Asia, the percentage of overweight people tripled from 7 percent to 22 percent, the greatest growth compared to all over the world. The number of obese in comparison to 1980 has risen by a third in South Africa and has almost doubled in China and Mexico. The Middle East countries were also not very far behind in terms of the percentage of overweight adults.
The study also claims that change is possible if we took the example of South Koreans. People in the country ate 300 percent more fruit and 10 percent more vegetables in 2009 compared to 1980 thanks to concerted government-led campaigns, the study said.