There are more overweight and obese people in the world than the entire population of China, leading experts on cancer and obesity have warned.
Professor Martin Wiseman, from World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), and Chris Trimmer, executive director of the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO), spoke out to highlight the risk of obesity and an inactive lifestyle on the eve of an international scientific conference in London about cancer, physical activity and obesity.
The latest analysis from IASO estimates there are 1 billion overweight adults in the world and a further 475 million that are obese. The number of people living in China, the world's most populous nation, is 1.349 billion.
Wiseman, medical and scientific adviser at WCRF, said, "Excessive body weight has long been linked to ill health and early death and is the second biggest risk factor for cancer after smoking. It is also associated with diseases such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes."
"The rising levels of obesity around the globe are a huge concern. A recent study of 380,000 people in nine countries by Imperial College London found that following WCRF's Recommendations for Cancer Prevention reduced the risk of dying from several diseases by a third."
"The researchers found that having excessive body fat was the factor most strongly associated with an increased risk of death from diseases such as cancer, circulatory disease and respiratory disease."
"We urgently need to address this situation by encouraging healthy diets and more physically active lifestyles."
Trimmer said, "Cancer, high body mass and a lack of physical activity all rank in the top ten causes of global premature death, but the interrelationship between them is a complex one."
"There is a real need to understand this relationship so as to save lives and reduce the economic and health burden associated with these factors. This will require collaborative effort and engagement across the board. The conference will provide a platform for this collaboration and support the required work going forward."