Obesity is so widespread that it has become more common than thinness in most countries, including many low- and middle-income countries that previously had difficulties with malnutrition.

Majed Ezzati, the lead researcher in the study published in The Lancet on Thursday, said, “A surprising number of people are obese.”

These results, considered among the most reliable independent estimates, are based on data from more than 220 million people in more than 190 countries.

Ezzati stated that although obesity rates have stabilized in many wealthy countries, they are rising rapidly in other places.

While underweight is becoming less common globally, it remains a major problem in many countries, leaving increasing numbers of countries facing what is known as the “double burden” of malnutrition.

The study said that obesity rates in adults increased more than double between 1990 and 2022, and more than four-fold among children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 years.

The study found that during the same period, the proportion of girls, boys and adults considered thin fell by a fifth, a third and a half, respectively.

Ezzati described the rise in obesity rates among children as "very disturbing."

At the same time, he said, hundreds of millions do not have enough food.

Very severe underweight may harm children's growth, and in its most severe cases may lead to death from hunger. People who suffer from obesity are also at risk of premature death and disability due to its association with early diabetes, heart and kidney disease, and a large number of other serious health conditions.

The newspaper said that the increase in the double burden was greater in some low- and middle-income countries, including areas of the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Obesity rates in these countries are now higher than in many high-income countries, especially in Europe.

Ezzati said that there are indications in some European countries, such as Spain, that obesity rates have begun to decrease or are at least stabilizing.