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Global Rates of Obesity Doubled in 30 Years

The world is becoming a heavier place, especially in the West.

Obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades, even as blood pressure and cholesterol levels have dropped, according to three new studies being published Friday in The Lancet, a British medical journal. Researchers said they were concerned about how much worse the obesity problem could get.

People in the Pacific Islands, like American Samoa, are the heaviest, one of the studies found. In developed countries, Americans are the fattest and Japanese are the slimmest.

"Being obese is no longer just a Western problem," said Majid Ezzati, a professor of public health at Imperial College London and an author of one of the studies.

In 1980, about 5 percent of men and 8 percent of women worldwide were obese. By 2008, the rates were nearly 10 percent for men and 14 percent for women.

That means 205 million men and 297 million women were obese. An additional 1.5 billion adults were overweight.

Though richer countries did a better job of keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, the researchers said that people almost everywhere were putting on weight, except in a few areas including central Africa and South Asia.

 

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