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QUICK FACTS on overweight and obesity

  • Obesity is strongly related to major cardiovascular risk factors such as raised blood pressure, glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes and dyslipidaemia.
  • Worldwide, at least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese, and an estimated 35.8 million (2.3 per cent) of global DALYs* are caused by overweight or obesity.
  • In 2008, 34 per cent of adults over the age of 20 were overweight with a body mass index (BMI, a measure of weight relative to height).
  • In 2008, 9.8 per cent of men and 13.8 per cent of women were obese (with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2), compared to 4.8 per cent for men and 7.9 per cent for women in 1980.
  • To achieve optimal health, the median BMI for adult populations should be in the range of 21–23 kg/m2, while the goal for individuals should be to maintain a BMI in the range 18.5–24.9 kg/m2.
  • The prevalence of raised BMI increases with income level of countries, up to upper-middle-income levels. The prevalence of overweight in high-income and upper-middle-income countries was more than double that of low- and lower-middle-income countries.
  • For obesity, the difference more than triples from 7 per cent obesity for both males and females in lower-middle-income countries to 24 per cent in upper-middle- income countries.

* DALY- disability-adjusted life year is a measure of overall disease burden expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death


Reference: Global Atlas on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control. Mendis S, Puska P, Norrving B editors. World Health Organization (in collaboration with the World Heart Federation and World Stroke Organization), Geneva 2011. 


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