• Vol. 38 No. 1, 57–65
  • 15 January 2009

Review on Epidemic of Obesity



There has been a growing concern about obesity worldwide. We performed a review on the prevalence and trends of obesity among adults and children. We reviewed the data on the prevalence of adult obesity and being overweight from the Global Database on Body Mass Index on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Website and prevalence of children being overweight from the International Obesity Task Force website. Various databases were also searched for relevant reviews and these include PubMed, EMBASE, NHS CRD databases and Cochrane. The prevalence of obesity is high in many parts of the world. Generally, there is an increasing trend of prevalence of adult obesity with age. The peak prevalence is reached at around 50 to 60 years old in most developed countries and earlier at around 40 to 50 years old in many developing countries. Obesity is a major health concern. Appropriate strategies need to be adopted to tackle obesity which itself brings about significant disability and premature deaths. Further observation may be needed to see if the trend of prevalence abates or increases in the near future.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were about 1.6 billion overweight adults aged 15 years and above and at least 400 million adults are obese worldwide in 2005. Obesity increases the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers. It is a serious public health problem that is growing in countries with low or middle income.

This article is available only as a PDF. Please click on “Download PDF” on top to view the full article.