Worldwide Survey Finds Adult Obesity Rate of around 25%

Article excerpt

The rest of the world seems to be catching up with the United States in the prevalence of heftiness and obesity, according to a survey of primary care patients in 63 countries.

Analysis of data from the survey, which excluded the United States, also found that waist circumference is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease risk and diabetes risk than is body mass index, the investigators reported.

They recruited physicians in 6,393 offices in 11 regions around the world: northwestern, southern, and eastern Europe; northern and southern Africa; the Middle East; eastern and southern Asia; Australia, Canada, and Latin America. On two separate half-days in May and July 2005, the participating physicians weighed and measured every patient they saw, a total of 69,409 men and 98,750 women.

The average age of the men was 48.7 years and of the women, 48.3 years (Circulation 2007 Oct. 22 [Epub doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.676379]).

The data showed that 24% of the men and 27% of the women had a body mass index (BMI) at or above 30 kg/[m.sup.2] and were therefore categorized as being obese. Another 40% of men and 30% of women had a BMI at or above 25 but below 30, and were categorized as being overweight, reported Beverley Balkau, Ph.D., of the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), Villejuif, France, and her colleagues.

The survey indicated that in every region, except southern and eastern Asia, more than 60% of the men and 50% of the women were either overweight or obese.

Overall, the survey found that the percentage of persons who were overweight was about 40% of men and 30% of women, varying by just a few percentage points from the Middle East, to southern Africa, to Latin America. But obesity varied much more.

The region with the lowest percentage of obese persons was eastern Asia, where obesity was found in 7% of both men and women. The highest rate, when both genders were considered, was in Canada, where obesity was found in 36% of persons. The highest rates overall were found in women in the Middle East and northern and southern African regions, where about 38%-40% of women were obese.

As much recent research has already indicated, the survey, which was called the International Day for Evaluation of Abdominal Obesity (IDEA) study, indicated that measuring waist circumference was probably an accurate gauge of visceral adiposity and that it was therefore predictive of a person's risk from weight-related conditions. …