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“Tsunami of obesity” threatens all regions of world, researchers find

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 04 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d772
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

Obesity levels continue to climb worldwide, but high income countries have managed to mitigate some of the harmful effects by achieving impressive reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol concentrations over the past 30 years.

These findings come from a vast amount of data gathered from every country in the world by the Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborative Group and published in three reports in the Lancet (

The data show that in 2008 one in three adults in the world was overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) and one in nine adults was obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2). Since 1980 the average body mass index (BMI) has increased in all regions, but now middle income countries have caught up with high income countries. The highest levels of obesity in the world are found in Pacific Island nations.

The research, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization, shows that systolic blood pressure is currently highest in low income and middle income countries. Between 1980 and 2008 mean systolic blood pressure declined markedly in high income countries by 7.3 mm Hg, whereas it increased in …

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