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2.2 billion people — one-third of the world's population — are obese or overweight, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study, which used data from the most recent Global Burden of Disease study, spanned 35 years and 195 countries, providing a new level of granularity concerning the world's biggest public health crisis:

Key takeaways:

  • Look up: Our visualization of the study's data shows the change in obesity rates for adults from 1980 to 2015, broken down by sociodemographics, and the takeaway is clear: except for a few outliers, the proportion of populations that are obese or overweight is increasing — especially in more developed countries.
  • The visible trend: As the level of a country's development increased so did the prevalence of obesity in men but for women, there was a larger increase in countries with a lower sociodemographic index.
  • Another big thing: The study showed that while fewer children are obese as a percentage of the population (5%) compared to adults (12%), the rates of childhood obesity are increasing much more rapidly in many places, presenting a health risk for the future.
  • Possible causes: Increased accessibility to energy-dense foods and a marked global increase in urbanization that can reduce chances for physical activity, though the authors note a shift to urban-living happened before the global increase in obesity.
  • The impact: The study looked at the effects of high body mass index and its myriad physical impacts over 25 years, finding that 7.1% of deaths worldwide in 2015 could be directly attributed to excess weight. That rate jumped 28.3% from 1990 to 2015. Unsurprisingly, it also contributed to a massive spike in years of life lost to disability and related diseases.
  • Worth considering: Nearly 40% of the 4 million deaths in 2015 linked to excess body weight occurred among people who weren't yet classified as obese, showing that simply being overweight can be a serious health risk.

Go deeper

13 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

15 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.