Obesity among adults 18 years of age and older increased rapidly in all regions of the world between 2000 and 2016, according to the most recent statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Data shows that 13.1% of the world’s adult population was obese in 2016, an increase from the 8.7% share in 2000.
In particular, Oceania, North America, and Europe had the highest prevalence of obesity in adults (both around 27-28 percent), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean.
Although it has been steadily increasing, the prevalence of obesity in adults in Africa and Asia was lower than the world average.
The 20 countries with the highest prevalence of obesity among adults in 2016 were grouped into the Pacific Islands, the Near East and North Africa.
In all of them, 30% or more of the population is obese, with the highest proportion in Nauru at 61 percent.
In many of these countries, multiple forms of malnutrition coexist: in Egypt, for example, the prevalence of childhood stunting reached 22.3% in 2014, while the prevalence of obesity in adults was 32% in 2016.
The prevalence of stunting among children under the age of five (as well as the number of stunted children) decreased worldwide from 33% in 2000 to 22% in 2020, according to FAO.
The decline took place in all developing regions, with the largest drop in Asia, from 37% in 2000 to 22% in 2020.
However, this global progress may have disguised a tougher situation in some parts of the world.
The prevalence of childhood stunting remains extremely high in some countries, sometimes reaching more than 50 percent.
Most of the countries with a high prevalence of stunting are in sub-Saharan Africa.