Nearly a Third of the World Population is Overweight—7 Ways to Shed Pounds

Wednesday Aug 6 | BY |
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Weight Loss

A recent study shows that nearly a third of the world’s population is overweight or obese.

We all know about the overweight/obesity epidemic. But it’s been awhile since it all started, and we’ve been working hard to incorporate healthy habits that will keep the pounds away.

How are we doing?

New Study Shows the World is Getting Heavier

According to a new study, we still have a ways to go. Researchers published a new analysis in The Lancet in May, 2014. They looked at the global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013. Pulling data from surveys, reports, and published studies, they found the following:

  • We’re getting heavier: Worldwide, body mass index (BMI) of adults increased from 28.8 percent to 36.9 percent in men, and from 29.8 percent to 38 percent in women. The prevalence of overweight and obese adults rose by 27.5 percent.
  • Nearly a third of the world’s population: 2.1 billion people, or about 29 percent of the world’s population, were either overweight or obese in 2013.
  • Kids are getting heavier: In developed countries, the prevalence of children and adolescents who are overweight or obese increased from 8.1 percent to 12.9 percent for boys, and from 8.4 percent to 13.4 percent for girls. Overall, there was a 47.1 percent increase in overweight and obese children between 1980 and 2013.
  • We’re making some progress on obesity: In developed countries, the increase in adult obesity since 2006 has slowed down. Rates are still increasing, but at a slower pace.
  • No nation has figured it out: Researchers concluded that according to the data, no nation can claim any success stories in the fight against overweight and obesity this year or for the past 33 years.
  • The U.S. is still the heftiest: The U.S. still holds the dubious honor of being the heftiest country, ranking number one in obese citizens in this study. Researchers noted that 50 percent of the world’s obese live in 10 countries. After the U.S., they are, in order: China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia. (Handy charts showing results for various countries.)
  • The rest of the world is catching up: Whereas the U.S. and Europe had the most overweight and obese populations in 1980, this study shows that the rest of the world is catching up. In South Africa, for example, 42 percent of women are obese. In six countries—Kuwait, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, and Samoa—over 50 percent of women are obese. In Tonga, over 50 percent of men and women are obese.
Overweight and Obesity Linked with Serious Health Problems

Modern studies have linked overweight and obesity with an increased risk of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol or triglycerides
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Liver disease
  • Infertility

Yet it seems current efforts to help people maintain a healthy weight aren’t working. What is the answer?

7 Ways to Lose Weight

While research continues to delve into this issue, we have some potential options for those concerned about weight. Obviously eating right and exercising regularly are the first two things everyone needs to be doing, but we’re assuming that Renegade Health readers already have that covered.

Below are seven other habits that can help you keep the extra pounds off. Let us know if you have other tips that have worked for you.

  1. Keep a food diary: Writing down what you’re eating every day helps increase your awareness of what you’re consuming, helping you to shed the pounds. According to a 2008 study, just this simple activity doubled weight loss. Participants followed a heart-healthy diet, attended weekly group sessions, exercised at least 30 minutes a day, and kept a food diary. After six months, they had lost an average of 13 pounds each. Researchers reported that the more food records people kept, the more weight they lost. “Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records,” said lead author Jack Hollis. “It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories.”
  2. See a therapist: Sound strange? Studies show it works. In 2011, scientists reported that cognitive-behavioral therapy was effective at reducing binge eating and helped participants to lose weight. A 2012 study reported that women who took eight sessions of therapy experienced weight loss and body mass index, and were better able to control their eating. Therapy can help people change unhealthy eating behaviors, become more aware of their triggers for overeating, and learn strategies for managing stress and other psychological issues that may contribute to overeating.
  3. Get enough sleep: When you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones go out of whack, encouraging you to eat more the next day. Not only that—the resulting cravings are usually for unhealthy foods high in fat and carbohydrates. Several studies have established that people who sleep less usually weigh more than those who get enough sleep (7-9 hours a night). Sleep loss also derails your dieting efforts—a 2010 study found that cutting back on sleep reduces the benefits of dieting. Newer studies, though, show that sticking to a regular, healthy sleep schedule helps you lose weight. Researchers from Brigham Young University reported in 2013 that people who maintained a regular sleep routine had a lower percentage of body fat than those who kept irregular sleep hours.
  4. Lose weight with a friend: A study published in 2005 reported that people were more successful at losing weight when they worked with an exercise buddy who lost weight at the same time. In 2012, researchers from the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at the Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island found that when participants had a health coach or buddy, they lost an average of 9 percent of their body weight over 24 weeks. And remember—the buddy doesn’t have to be a human. In 2004, scientists reported that people who went on a diet plan at the same time they put their dogs on one lost more weight than non-pet owners.
  5. Drink more water: A 2010 study found that drinking water before each meal helped promote weight loss. One group of participants drank two cups of water before meals, while the other didn’t. Both groups ate a low-calorie diet. After 12 weeks, the water drinkers had lost about 15.5 pounds. The non-water-drinking dieters lost only 11 pounds. A later 2013 review also reported that dieters who drank more water lost more weight.
  6. Spice it up: Spices help rev up your metabolism. A 1986 study found that both chili and mustard help increase metabolic rate. A later 2006 study found similar results with chili, in that it increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Green tea may have similar benefits. Spices may also increase satiety, helping you to stay satisfied for longer after your meal. The effects are small, but may definitely contribute to your overall weight-loss goals.
  7. Try seaweed: New research from Newcastle University suggests that seaweed could help people lose weight. Researchers extracted a compound called “alginate” from seaweed and found, in the laboratory, that it slowed down the activity of a fat-digesting enzyme. If the compound acts the same way in the body it could result in less fat being absorbed, which could help people lose weight, or at least maintain their current weight. This is very preliminary research, but it may be worth a try adding more seaweed to your daily diet. MindBodyGreen has some recipes here.

Do you have other tips for helping to maintain a healthy weight? Please share them with us.

* * *

Marie Ng, et al., “Global, regional and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013,” The Lancet, May 29, 2014,

Betsy McKay, “Study Finds Nearly 29% of World Population is Overweight or Obese,” Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2014,

“What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services,

Rhonda Stewart, “Nearly one-third of the world’s population is obese or overweight, new data show,” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Press Release, May 28, 2014,

Kaiser Permanente, “Keeping a Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study Suggests,” ScienceDaily, July 8, 2008,

Grilo CM, et al., “Cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral weight loss, and sequential treatment for obese patients with binge-eating disorder: a randomized controlled trial,” J Consult Clin Psychol, 2011 Oct;79(5):675-84,

Filipa Pimenta, et al., “Brief cognitive-behavioral therapy for weight loss in midlife women: a controlled study with follow-up,” Int J Womens Health 2012; 4:559-567,

Melanie Haiken, “Change Your Sleep Schedule to Lose Weight, Study Shows,” Forbes, November 21, 2013,

University of Chicago Medical Center, “Sleep loss limits fat loss,” ScienceDaily, October 5, 2010,

Laura Blue, “Want to Lose Weight? A Coach or a Buddy Can Help,” Time, July 31, 2012,

“The buddy systme for losing weight works,” USA Today, November 18, 2004,

Bill Hendrick, “Water May Be Secret Weapon in Weight Loss,” WebMD, August 23, 2010,

Kerry Grens, “Drink more water, lose more weight?” Chicago Tribune, July 3, 2013,,0,664648.story.

Henry, CJ and Emery, B., “Effect of spiced food on metabolic rate,” Hum Nutr Clin Nutr March 1986; 40(2):165-8,

Kiran DK Ahuja, et al., “Effects of chili consumption on postprandial glucose, insulin, and energy metabolism,” American Society for Clinical Nutrition, July 2006; 84(1):63-69,

“Seaweed could be key to weight loss, study suggests,” BBC, February 28, 2014,

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho.


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  1. Neil says:

    Here are my 7.
    1 Look in the mirror and be disgusted at what you see
    2 Understand that being overfat has become a cultural norm, but should never be accepted
    3 Only do your shopping at farmers markets and if you can’t resist buying all that junk food in the supermarket, get someone to go the supermarket for you to buy the ‘extras’ that you cant get at farmers markets( toilet rolls, razors etc). If you can’t do any of your shopping properly, get some one who knows what they are doing to do everything for you.
    4 Start some gardening and grow some fruit/ veges – for your health and exercise and vitamin D free from the sun. Burns calories.
    5 Find at least one other activity that you will enjoy forever that burns calories at the same time, like as mentioned buy a dog and walk it. Gyms and trainers don’t work because it is not natural and short lived.
    6 Stop feeding your pets and children junk food as they will get fat and sick too. This is downright cruelty, and in my world, it would be a crime. You need to leave a legacy and not add to the problem.
    7 Buy a subscription to Organic gardener magazine.

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