Though high blood pressure and cholesterol rates have fallen considerably worldwide, the obesity rate has doubled since 1980, and if not controlled in time, it could lead to a "global tsunami of cardiovascular disease."
While commenting on the study findings, lead researcher Majid Ezzati, a professor of public health at Imperial College London, said: "Our results show that overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are no longer Western problems or problems of wealthy nations. Their presence has shifted towards low- and middle-income countries, making them global problems."
Ezzati revealed that, worldwide, five percent men and eight percent women were obese in 1980; however in 2008, ten percent of men and 14 percent of women were found to be obese.
In their report, the researchers revealed that waistlines are expanding worldwide, and among developed countries, U.S. is leading the way with the highest average BMI (body mass index) rate of 28 for men and women. It is closely followed by UK and Australia for men, and New Zealand and Australia for women.
BMI levels of Czech men and Turkish women are the highest in Europe (28 for each), while Swiss women were found to have lowest BMI levels in Europe, 24.
Interestingly, there was virtually no change in BMI levels in European countries like Italy, France, Belgium, and Finland.
Japan ranked lowest with BMI rates ranging from 22 for women and 24 for women, followed by Singapore.
Changing lifestyle the likely culprit
Though the scientists, till date, have not been able to find exact reasons behind increased obesity rate, they believe that changing lifestyle could be likely culprit.
As per experts, people these days are ignoring healthy diet in favor of fast foods, rich in only certain type of fats and carbohydrates, and since almost everyone is highly dependent on automobiles and avoids walking/public transportation, obesity is increasing.
Since obesity is linked with diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, diabetes, higher rate of suffering from certain cancers, etc., medical experts believe that there’s a need to change lifestyle to successfully combat this epidemic.
The study was jointly carried out by researchers from Imperial College London and Harvard University, and the findings were recently published online in the journal ‘The Lancet’.