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03rd Mar 2023

88% of Irish people will be overweight by 2060, say obesity experts

Fiona Frawley

a tape measure and weighing scales

Ireland follows along with the worrying global trend.

Over 88% of the Irish population are expected to be overweight or obese by as soon as 2060, according to an Irish obesity expert.

The findings, which were part of a World Obesity Federation report, also predicted that up to 51% of the global population could become overweight or obese by 2035.

Also contained within the report was the deeply concerning statistic that childhood obesity levels could more than double by 2035, an alarming escalation.

The prevalence of obesity is set to sky-rocket.

Speaking to RTÉ about the findings contained within the report, Dr. Grace O’Malley, who is the clinical lead in the child and adolescent obesity service in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, discussed the worrying trends.

Dr. O’Malley stated that whilst there had been “a little bit of a drop off” in the frequency of obesity amongst the general population when compared to pre-pandemic levels, there had been a notable increase in obesity for children from disadvantaged areas.

The obesity expert also noted that this “big gap” in obesity levels between the general population and disadvantaged children was due to the fact that economic inequality “has a massive impact on life”.

Discussing the details of the report, World Obesity Federation president, Louise Baur, described the data as “a clear warning” that legislators need to act now to prevent the situation from spiralling further out of control.

Baur also stated that “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”.

 The increase in obesity will place a huge strain on the health service.

An unintended consequence of a sharp rise in obesity levels is the economic cost to society, with the federation stating that by 2035, the cost of treating health conditions linked to obesity could be as high as €3.7 billion per annum, or 3% of total GDP.

To calculate its projections, the report used the body mass index (BMI) formula, a number calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared.

According to the World Health Organisation, a BMI of over 25 is considered overweight, whilst over 30 is regarded as obese. In 2020, a worrying 38% of the world’s population fell into at least one of these categories.

To further reinforce the concern regarding those from disadvantaged backgrounds being at the highest risk when it comes to weight gain, the report also found that nearly all of the countries expected to see the biggest increases in obesity in the coming years are low or middle-income countries in Asia and Africa.

Header image via Shutterstock

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