The World's Battle of the Bulge

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Originally posted on June 5, 2014.

An amazingly comprehensive new Lancet study, with nearly 150 authors, tracks overweight and obesity rates across 188 countries from 1980 to 2013.  Some highlights:

  • Worldwide, the proportion of overweight adults (BMI ≥ 25) increased from 29 to 37 percent among men and 30 to 38 percent among women.
  • Over the last 33 years, no country has reduced its obesity rate.
  • In 2010, “overweight and obesity were estimated to cause 3.4 million deaths.”
  • National variations are huge, with the percentage overweight ranging 85 percent among adults in Tonga to 3 percent in Timor-Leste.

The study is amazing not only in its global comprehensiveness, across time, but also in its public, interactive data archive available from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

As a screen shot example, I compared the U.S. increase in the overweight percentage (upper dark line) with the global increase (lower dark line).  All other countries are in light blue.


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About the Author
David Myers has spent his entire teaching career at Hope College, Michigan, where he has been voted “outstanding professor” and has been selected by students to deliver the commencement address. His award-winning research and writings have appeared in over three dozen scientific periodicals and numerous publications for the general public. He also has authored five general audience books, including The Pursuit of Happiness and Intuition: Its Powers and Perils. David Myers has chaired his city's Human Relations Commission, helped found a thriving assistance center for families in poverty, and spoken to hundreds of college and community groups. Drawing on his experience, he also has written articles and a book (A Quiet World) about hearing loss, and he is advocating a transformation in American assistive listening technology (see