Global Obesity Prevalence Nearly Double 1980 Levels

But many countries and regions show drops in blood pressure, cholesterol

FRIDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Although many of the world's regions have experienced falling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the prevalence of obesity has nearly doubled since 1980; three papers documenting trends in these health indicators have been published online Feb. 4 in The Lancet.

Mariel M. Finucane, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues collected data from health examination surveys and epidemiological studies on 9.1 million participants to estimate worldwide trends in population mean body mass index (BMI). They found that BMI increased worldwide for both men and women between 1980 and 2008, with the United States having the highest BMI rate among wealthy countries. By 2008, 9.8 percent of men and 13.8 percent of women worldwide were obese, compared with 4.8 percent for men and 7.9 percent for woman in 1980.

Goodarz Danaei, M.D., also of the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues estimated worldwide trends for systolic blood pressure (SBP) based on data on 5.4 million subjects. They found that mean worldwide global SBP dropped slightly for both men and women between 1980 and 2008, from 128.1 mm Hg to 124.4 mm Hg. The trend varied by region, with SBP being highest in poor and middle-income countries. Farshad Farzadfar, M.D., of the same institution, and colleagues used data on three million subjects to estimate trends in mean serum total cholesterol for adults worldwide. They found little change in global mean cholesterol, but some areas saw decreases, while east and southeast Asia and Pacific registered an increase of 0.08 mmol/L per decade.

"Nutritional policies and pharmacological interventions should be used to accelerate improvements in total cholesterol in regions with decline and to curb or prevent the rise in Asian populations and elsewhere. Population-based surveillance of cholesterol needs to be improved in low-income and middle-income countries," Farzadfar and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Finucane
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Abstract - Danaei
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Abstract - Farzadfar
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