Childhood obesity in India is likely to see an annual rise of 9.1 percent by 2035, if prevention, treatment, and support do not improve, according to a global study released ahead of World Obesity Day. Observed every year on March 4, the goal of World Obesity Day is to stimulate and support practical actions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis.
The report published by the World Obesity Federation predicts that more than half the global population will be overweight and obese within 12 years if prevention, treatment, and support do not improve.
In India, around 11 percent of people will be obese by 2035, with an annual increase in adult obesity between 2020 and 2035 to be 5.2 percent, it noted. The report ‘World Obesity Atlas 2023’ shows that in 2020 boys in India had a 3 percent obesity risk, but by 2035 the risk will likely go up by 12 percent, and for girls, the risk was 2 percent in 2020, but in the next 12 years, it will rise to 7 percent.
The report also shows that Indian women in 2020 had an obesity risk of 7 percent, which will rise to 13 percent by 2035. Men had a risk of 4 percent in 2020, which will rise to 8 percent in 12 years.
The study predicts that continued failure to improve prevention and treatment could contribute to a total economic impact of UD 4.32 trillion by 2035, nearly 3 percent of global GDP.
The likely impact on India’s national GDP will be 1.8 percent, the report shows. The main reasons for rising obesity prevalence in lower-income countries include a shift to highly processed foods, greater levels of sedentary behaviour, weaker policies to control the food supply and food marketing, and less well-resourced healthcare services to assist in weight management and health education.
“This year’s Atlas is a clear warning that by failing to address obesity today, we risk serious repercussions in the future. It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents,” said Professor Louise Baur, President of the World Obesity Federation.
“Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation. That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity and actively involving young people in the solutions. If we act together now, we have the opportunity to help billions of people in the future,” Baur said in a statement.
The report shows marked variations in preparedness across national income levels and geographical regions. For example, the average preparedness ranking for low-income countries is just 154/183 compared to 29/183 for high-income countries.
India has a preparedness of 98/183, which was marked as “average” by the report. All 10 of the most prepared countries are in Europe, while eight of the 10 least prepared countries are in the African region.
The report noted that acknowledgment of the economic impact is in no way a reflection of the blame on people living with obesity, which is a chronic, relapsing disease. The Atlas report will be presented at a high-level policy event on March 6 to UN policymakers, member states, and civil society.