By Leslie Young

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 12 per cent of the world’s adult population is obese and that number has been growing steadily over the last 35 years.

Not a single country has ever successfully reduced its obesity rate, according to the researchers, aside from a handful of places like Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where years of war have led to famine or widespread malnourishment.

In Canada, about one in five adults was obese in 2015, the researchers found. That places Canada at about 80th worldwide. Pacific islands like American Samoa, where 62 per cent of adults are now obese, and Middle Eastern countries fared particularly badly.

People in East Asian countries were less likely to be obese. But almost all countries, regardless of whether they were rich or poor, saw obesity rates rising.

In some countries now, an individual might be under-nourished as a child and suffer health impacts like stunted growth as a result, and then grow up to be obese and suffer from different associated problems, said Ashkan Afshin, acting assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington, and the lead author of the study.


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