scale body weight
© AP Photo/Patrick SisonThis Tuesday, April 3, 2018, file photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York.
Obesity has eclipsed hunger as the top threat to global health, with more than one billion people falling into the category of clinical obesity, according to a comprehensive report published in The Lancet.

The study, spearheaded by researchers at Imperial College London and the World Health Organization, underscores a worrying reality: today, more than 1 in 8 people worldwide suffer from obesity. The scale of the issue is such that the number of undernourished individuals globally now stands at fewer than 550 million.

Obesity and being underweight fall under the umbrella of malnutrition, both states signifying an imbalance in essential nutrients and appropriate caloric intake. Children, unfortunately, bear a significant portion of this burden, with those under 18 years old constituting 159 million of the obese demographic.

The analysis reveals an alarming trend in adult obesity, too. A staggering 879 million adults are classed as obese, tipping the scales to a total of 1.04 billion worldwide out of a population of 8 billion in 2022.

This research, dubbed the most extensive of its kind, paints a grave picture for public health infrastructures globally. In the UK, nearly a third of adults are deemed obese, with obesity rates among women slightly outpacing those of men.

Since 1990, the situation has deteriorated drastically, with obesity rates doubling for women and tripling for men. The repercussions of these statistics are vast — not only in terms of health implications but also financially. Britain's National Health Service (NHS) brands the findings as "alarming," with obesity frequently described as "a ticking health timebomb."

The data, hailing from an astonishing 222 million people across 3,663 studies, indicates obesity's prevalence in regions like Polynesia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, urged the food industry to stand accountable and cooperate in efforts to combat the obesity epidemic.