New research has showed that while developed western countries are making progress tackling the leading risk factors for heart disease, some parts of the world are still lagging behind.
The inequalities were highlighted in three global studies looking at body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure over the last 28 years. The results showed that in 2008 more than one in ten of the world’s adult population was obese, with women more likely to be obese than men. An estimated total of more than half a billion adults were obese worldwide – nearly double the level recorded in 1980.
A growing and ageing population also meant the number of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure rose from 600 million in 1980 to nearly a billion in 2008. And while average levels of blood cholesterol fell in Western countries of North America, Australasia and Europe, they increased in East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said:
“There has been a striking escalation of obesity over the last thirty years and, make no mistake, we’re facing a global challenge tackling the swell in BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure – all leading heart disease risk factors.
“It’s an ugly, upward trend but it can be reversed with effective policies and sensible lifestyle changes, supported by important developments in medicines.
“Global inequalities still exist but it’s not all bad news. We’ve seen marked progress in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol across the developed world, proving lifestyle and medical interventions can work.”
The research was published in the Lancet journal.