Obesity-related deaths hit new high worldwide.
It was a headline practically tailor-made to catch my eye. And I can only hope it garnered the same immediate attention from the rest of the world… because the situation it describes is every bit as dire as it sounds.
According to a new study, excess body weight cost 4 million people their lives in 2015. More than half of those who died were obese. And nearly 70 percent of these deaths were due to heart disease (but diabetes was a close second).
That’s a staggering amount of carnage. And it only took us 25 years — not even a full generation — to get to this place.
That’s right. In the last quarter century alone, global mortality rates linked to obesity have grown by more than 28 percent. While the number of years people spend disabled due to high BMI has increased by nearly 36 percent.
Disease burden has risen in tandem with dramatic increases in global obesity rates. It’s a worldwide public health disaster. And it’s only going to get worse.
Why? Because as of 2015, more than 100 million children and more than 600 million adults on this planet were clinically obese — for an overall prevalence of five percent and 12 percent, respectively.
And this is just obesity we’re talking about. These figures don’t even count the people who are simply overweight — which itself is a deadly risk factor.
Obesity has now eclipsed hunger in terms of its global impact on health — to such an extent that we can’t just chalk it up to a wealthier population with higher standards of living. But having cheap, high-calorie food at your fingertips 24/7 — especially paired with a sharp downturn in physical activity — almost certainly plays a role.
And again, this is no longer a uniquely American problem anymore. Along with Egypt, China, and India, we still have some of the highest levels of obesity. And prevalence rose consistently among all age groups and in nearly all countries.
In fact, these rates more than doubled in a whopping 73 different countries. And sadly, it’s childhood obesity that has seen the greatest uptick in many places.
Obesity is deadly, but more people are living with it, and for longer than ever before. This means any number of co-existing illness could be on the table for them — from kidney disease, to stroke, to blindness, and cancer.
So I have to ask… when will enough be enough?
In a news cycle packed with preventable tragedies, somehow this one — easily among the most lethal of the lot — continues to be ignored. We’re eating ourselves to death. And until we decide to take the killer at our own kitchen table seriously, this silent massacre will continue.
Whatever you do, don’t be the next victim.