The research, led by scientists from Imperial College London and published in The Lancet, compared body mass index (BMI) among almost 20 million adult men and women from 1975 to 2014.
It found obesity in men has tripled and more than doubled in women. Lead author Prof Majid Ezzat said it was an “epidemic of severe obesity” and urged governments to act. The study, which pooled data from adults in 186 countries, found that the number of obese people worldwide had risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014.
Meanwhile the number of underweight people had risen from 330 million to 462 million over the same period. Global obesity rates among men went up from 3.2% in 1975 to 10.8%, while among women they rose from 6.4 % in 1975 to 14.9%. This equates to 266 million obese men and 375 million obese women in the world in 2014, the study said.
The research also predicted that the probability of reaching the World Health Organization’s global obesity target – which aims for no rise in obesity above 2010 levels by 2025 – would be “close to zero”.