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Americans, Chinese most responsible in pushing global number of obese people

Update Date: Apr 03, 2016 11:42 AM EDT

A new study revealed that global obesity more than tripled among men and doubled among women in the last four decades. The researchers warned that if current trends continue, 18% of men and 21% of women will be obese by 2025.

The paper published in The Lancet compared body mass index trends in 200 countries from 1975, when 105 million or 2.6% of the world's population was obese, to 2014, when it increased to 641 million or 8.9%.

On average, people worldwide have become an average of 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) heavier each decade, Web MD reported. 

The study stated that more men were obese than underweight in 136 countries, and more women were obese than underweight in 165 of them, according to a CNN report.

The biggest jump occured in China, which 60th and 41st for severely obese men and women, respectively in 1975, to second in both categories in 2014, according to the study .

More than one in four severely obese men and one in five severely obese women lives in the United States. By 2025, the study estimates, 43% of women and 45% of men in the United States will be obese.

High-income English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States account for over a quarter of the world's severely obese people. Coming in second, though, are the Middle East and North Africa, which is home to 26 million severely obese people, or 13.9% of the world's severely obese population.

There were 40 to 50% of women in several Caribbean and Middle Eastern countries that are obese.

Meanwhile, obesity prevalence was less than 1% for men in two countries: Burundi and Timor-Leste. For women, Timor-Leste, Japan, Vietnam, North Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh all had obesity prevalence under 5%.

Despite the findings, extremely low weight remains a serious public health problem in the poorest parts of the world, the researchers noted. For example, nearly one-quarter of people in south Asia are underweight, as are 15 percent of men and 12 percent of women in central and east Africa. 

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