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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the current prevalence of overweight and obesity and trends over time in body mass index (BMI) and in the distribution of BMI worldwide. During the past three decades, a consistent increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults has been documented worldwide, with substantial differences between countries and regions. Evidence shows that the BMI increase began among those born early in the 20th century, with considerable variation over time. Simultaneously, the distribution of BMI has shifted in a skewed fashion, with marked changes in the upper BMI range indicating that the heaviest people have become even heavier whereas lean people have shown only small changes. Rates of the prevalence of underweight children are falling in developing countries with parallel increases in the rates of overweight children as a result of globalization. Underweight, overweight, and obesity still represent a significant health issue.

Keywords: body mass index, obesity, prevalence, time trend, children, adults, distribution shift, health impact

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