Latest research data suggests that 76 percent of the world's population, or nearly 5.5 billion people, This shows that more people on this planet are currently over-fed than undernourished. The over-fat pandemic has not spared even those who exercise or even compete in sports, says researchers behind the study at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. The researchers put forth a specific notion of over-fat, a condition of having sufficient excess body fat to impair health, in their recent research hypothesis and theory article published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health. Based on a new look into current data, they argue how, in addition to those who are overweight and obese, others falling into the over-fat category include normalweight people.
"The over-fat category includes normalweight people with increased risk factors for chronic disease, such as high abdominal fat, and those with characteristics of a condition called normal-weight metabolic obesity," explain the researchers. While the obesity epidemic has grown considerably over the last three to four decades, this work casts light on the much higher numbers of people who may have unhealthy levels of body fat. "We want to bring awareness of the rise in these risk factors, where the terms 'over-fat' and 'under-fat' describe new body composition states. We hope the terms will enter into common usage, to help create substantive improvements in world health," says the team behind the study.
The researchers clarified that their work also indicates that 9 to 10 percent of the world population may be under-fat. "While we think of the condition of under-fat as being due to starvation, those worldwide numbers are dropping rapidly. However, an aging population, an increase in chronic disease and a rising number of excessive exercisers or those with anorexia athletica, are adding to the number of non-starving under-fat individuals," they explain. This leaves as little as 14 percent of the world's population with normal body-fat percentage, notes the analysis.
The study concludes that this is a global concern because of its strong association with rising chronic disease and climbing healthcare costs, affecting people of all ages and incomes. The study brings to light that new terminology - over-fat - is important to replace the old notions of 'overweight' and 'obese'. While it is estimated that up to 49 percent of the world's population, or 3.5 billion people, are obese or overweight, the well-documented obesity epidemic may merely be the tip of the over-fat iceberg, state the authors behind the report.
The term overfat, as opposed to obesity and overweight, may be more helpful moving forward in addressing this global health problem. Better terminology may lead to better awareness of overfat risks, and help healthcare professionals, public health officials and the public more easily address these problems.