Obesity Drugs Won’t Solve Our Billion-Person Problem, WHO Warns

Obesity rates have leveled off in some wealthy countries, particularly in Europe.

Effective and popular obesity drugs alone will not be enough to solve a global problem that currently affects more than a billion people, World Health Organization officials have warned.

Since 1990, obesity has quadrupled in children and teens and more than doubled in adults, with about one in eight people worldwide living with obesity, health officials said Thursday. It was published in the first public analysis of obesity on a global scale since then.

The researchers found that while obesity rates have leveled off in some wealthy countries, particularly in Europe, obesity rates have increased rapidly in low- and middle-income countries. In their findings published in The Lancet, the research team said the problem of low body weight due to malnutrition has replaced obesity as the leading problem in many countries.

New obesity drugs such as Novo Nordisk A/S’ Wegoby and Eli Lilly and Co.’s Zepbound could grow into an $80 billion market by 2030. But Majid Ezzati says these will likely contribute to growing inequalities around weight-loss treatments. He is Professor of Global Environmental Health at Imperial College London and lead author of the study.

“These drugs are certainly an important tool, but they should not be seen as a solution to the problem,” said Francesco Branca, WHO’s director of nutrition and food safety and a co-author of the study. “The solution remains food system and environmental transformation.”

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WHO member states adopted an obesity plan in 2022 that includes a wide range of proposed policy changes, including promoting breastfeeding, restricting the sale of unhealthy food and drinks to children, nutrition labeling, and physical activity standards in schools. Study co-author Guha Pradeepa, from the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, said disruptions caused by climate change, war and the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to higher prices for healthy foods and even higher rates of both obesity and underweight. He said that there is a sex.

WHO researchers worked on the study in collaboration with the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, a global network of scientists that provides data on non-communicable diseases such as obesity.

More than 1,500 researchers looked at the weight and height of more than 220 million people in more than 190 countries to get a comprehensive picture of obesity rates around the world. Obesity was classified as BMI ≥30 in adults and measured on a sliding scale according to weight and age in children. They found that in 2022 more than 879 million adults and more than 159 million children are likely to be obese.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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