Why Obesity Will Kill Over 1 Billion People Between 2030 and 2050
By Jay Campbell
May 5th, 2022
There’s no question in anybody’s mind that people are getting fatter with each passing day.
And the trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
The question isn’t an “if” matter.
It’s a matter of whether we’ll get fatter at a faster or slower rate than what we’re already seeing worldwide.
The real crisis is how we steer humanity away from an inevitable personal health crisis and towards a set body composition where chronic issues like systemic inflammation are no more.
So what I want to do with this short article is a stream-of-consciousness, thinking-out-loud process.
One where I take a big shot at guessing how obesity will rise by the time we reach the halfway mark of the 21st century.
How Fat Will The World Be By 2050?
(For the record, the CDC defines adult obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher)
This is extraordinary when you consider that 30.5% was the number of obese adults in the USA between 1999-2000.
So if we do some quick math and extrapolate this growth rate of obesity to 2050 (~10% increase every 15 years), we would theoretically estimate that approximately 64% of all adults in USA will be medically classified as obese.
Is this prediction bang-on with what other health experts suggest, or am I way off?
Let’s take a look at the data…
One study from the New England Journal of Medicine published in 2019 suggests 50% of all American adults will be obese by 2030:
“New research finds that by 2030, nearly half of American adults — 49.2% to be exact — will be obese. In every single state, no fewer than 35% of adults will have a body mass index of at least 30, the threshold that defines obesity.
…Public health researchers at Harvard and George Washington University made these projections by applying established weight trends to Americans across the lifespan and across the map. To hone in on states’ obesity rates, they combed through existing data and corrected it to account for the fact that people routinely lie to researchers about their weight. Then, they used each state’s history of weight gain to forecast its future.”
(The original study can be found here)
That lines up exactly with the CDC’s observed growth of obesity, and if we do the math again using +10% for every 15 years, 2030 is where we would reach the frightening statistic of “1 out of every 2 adults is obese”.
Meanwhile, The American Obesity Association projects a much more gruesome outcome where 60% of American adults are obese by 2030:
“New statistics show that 42% of Americans in 2020 are obese and another 35% are overweight. With 120 million obese people it is costing America $1.7 trillion dollars a year. While there have been plenty of temporary fixes the statistics worsen each year.
In a new study just released by the American Obesity Association in just 4 more years (2025) 50% of Americans will be obese and by 2030 that number jumps to 60%”
So roughly 5 years faster than my personal prediction.
A more conservative prediction comes from a modeling study done by Harvard University scientists in 2010, where the number came up to 42%:
“The interaction assumptions of the model are validated using longitudinal network transmission data. We find that the current rate of becoming obese is 2% per year and increases by 0.5 percentage points for each obese social contact.
The rate of recovering from obesity is 4% per year, and does not depend on the number of non-obese contacts. The model predicts a long-term obesity prevalence of approximately 42%, and can be used to evaluate the effect of different interventions on steady-state obesity.”
Sadly this was a “best case” scenario and we’re damn close to exceeding that number well before 2050, let alone 2030.
The numbers for the rest of the world don’t look much better:
- The International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) projects a 60-80% rate of adult obesity within Western nations by 2050
- The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research projects 1.5 billion people worldwide will be obese by 2050
- The number of obese adults in the United Kingdom is projected to be 48% by 2050
- Preliminary research out of Denmark suggests 25% of the entire world population will be obese by 2045
No matter which way you spin the numbers… we’re very clearly headed in the wrong direction.
The Self-Destructive Cycle Of Obesity
The problem with a health condition like obesity is that it tends to feed on itself in a vicious negative cycle.
I mean that literally — some research suggests obese people are helplessly addicted to eating more food:
“…overeating may further weaken the responsiveness of the pleasure receptors (“hypofunctioning reward circuitry”), further diminishing the rewards gained from overeating.
Food intake is associated with dopamine release. The degree of pleasure derived from eating correlates with the amount of dopamine released. Evidence shows obese individuals have fewer dopamine (D2) receptors in the brain relative to lean individuals and suggests obese individuals overeat to compensate for this reward deficit.
People with fewer of the dopamine receptors need to take in more of a rewarding substance — such as food or drugs — to get an effect other people get with less.”
The same repeating pattern also tends to take place with lower physical activity:
“A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that the working muscles of obese mice tired out more quickly than those of lean mice. These findings support a cycle of obesity where inactivity leads to obesity, which leads to more inactivity.”
THE CYCLE: Being obese makes it more difficult to eat less and move more –> you feel too tired to move but you “feel” ravenous and have to eat more –> you become more obese –> it’s now even harder to eat less and move more because EVEN MORE WEIGHT has to be lost to return to a healthy bodyweight
And yet again, we see this cycle manifest with worsening sleep, in which being fatter makes sleeping harder and the resulting sleep loss leads to more weight gain:
“Sleep loss creates a hormone imbalance in the body that promotes overeating and weight gain. Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that regulate appetite, and when you aren’t getting sufficient sleep, the production of these hormones is altered in a way that creates increased feelings of hunger.”
“…People who are obese are more likely to report insomnia or trouble sleeping than those who are not obese. There is also evidence to suggest that obesity is associated with increased daytime sleepiness and fatigue, even in people who sleep through the night undisturbed. Researchers suggest that obesity may change metabolism and/or sleep-wake cycles in such a way that causes sleep quality to deteriorate.”
So how bad can this cycle really get?
One of the worst things to come with obesity is chronic inflammation.
There’s an ongoing debate as to whether obesity causes inflammation, or whether it’s inflammation that causes obesity, but let’s focus on the former.
The Endocrine Web briefly summarizes how your fat cells treat obesity as an “immune injury” that needs to be resolved, except the injury is not fully treated:
“The immune system recognizes the injury and sends an array of inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines travel to adipose cells as well as the liver, pancreas, and sometimes the brain and muscle tissues.
Additional immune cells infiltrate metabolic tissues, such as natural killer cells (NT) and macrophages. Changes appear in the T cell population of adipose cells. There appears to be a decrease in regulatory T cells, which favors further immune activation.”
We don’t exactly know the causal mechanisms by which obesity leads to inflammation or vice versa, but we know that A is very clearly connected to B:
“The excess of macronutrients in the adipose tissues stimulates them to release inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin 6, and reduces production of adiponectin, predisposing to a pro-inflammatory state and oxidative stress. The increased level of interleukin 6 stimulates the liver to synthesize and secrete C-reactive protein.
As a risk factor, inflammation is an imbedded mechanism of developed cardiovascular diseases including coagulation, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and diabetes mellitus. It is also associated with development of non-cardiovascular diseases such as psoriasis, depression, cancer, and renal diseases.” [Source]
Another plausible mechanism includes excess fatty acid accumulation damaging the mitochondria within your cells via oxidative stress, leading to a triggered immune response that then leads to inflammation.
In a way, obesity actually changes the type of inflammatory markers secreted by your fat cells:
“Researchers also found the adipose tissue of lean individuals predominantly secretes anti-inflammatory markers, while in obese individuals more pro-inflammatory markers are secreted.
Many studies found that adipose tissue in obese individuals showed a shift in immune cells from anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages to pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages, which was also correlated with insulin resistance”
(If you want to read even deeper into the relationship between inflammation and obesity, this article does a good job of exploring the “chicken or the egg” problem)
The only question left to ask is: What health conditions can obesity lead to?
The list is as endless as you want it to be, but here are several well-documented outcomes of being grossly fat:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- Various cancers
- Lower testosterone levels
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Infections within the skin
- Erectile dysfunction
- Neurodegenerative Disorders (Alzheimers and Dementia)
Don’t bank on dealing with just one of those if you’re obese… there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with MULTIPLE health problems simultaneously if you let yourself go too much.
And that can be infinitely more exhausting than dealing with just one problem — which once again demonstrates how obesity begets more obesity.
Research from The RAND Corporation published in 2002 suggests obesity may be linked to higher rates of chronic conditions when compared to drinking, smoking, or being poor:
“Sturm and Wells examined data from Healthcare for Communities, a national household telephone survey fielded in 1998. Approximately 10,000 respondents participated in the survey, which was designed to be nationally representative. Among other questions, the survey asked respondents to self-report on 17 chronic health conditions (including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease, and cancer), height, weight, poverty, smoking status, problem drinking, health-related quality of life, and a variety of demographic factors.”
Sometimes, a picture can tell the story so much better than a thousand words.
So How Many Obese People Will Be Dead By 2050?
It’s time to put our thinking caps back on and estimate the death toll of obesity nearly 30 years from now.
Many authoritative sources have their own educated guesses of how many lives lost per year are attributable to obesity.
So let’s take a quick look at what the numbers are:
- The World Health Organization: 2.8 million people per year worldwide
- The World Bank: 4 million people per year worldwide
- Our World In Data: 8% of deaths worldwide in 2017 (compared to 4.5% in 1990)
- Statista: 5 million people worldwide in 2019
There are two ways to interpret these data points… bear with me!
1) As of 2022, there are 28 years left before we reach 2050:
- The World Health Organization stat would bring us to 78.4 million deaths worldwide from obesity in total
- The World Bank stat would bring us to 112 million deaths worldwide from obesity in total
- The Statista stat would bring us to 140 million deaths worldwide from obesity in total
2) We can look at the increase in the rate of deaths due to obesity:
- Assuming a world population of 9.9 billion by 2050, and using the Our World In Data stat, we can safely assume obesity will be responsible for roughly 12% of deaths worldwide by 2050
- In this case, 1.19 billion people will die in 2050 alone due to obesity
In the best case scenario, we’re looking at tens of millions of people.
In the worst-case scenario, we are well on our way to a billion people dead within a single year because they gluttoned themselves into the ground.
We can no longer blind ourselves to the obvious truth that fat KILLS people:
“In findings contradicting the “obesity paradox”, which had suggested a possible survival advantage to being overweight, researchers said excess body weight now causes 1 in 5 of all premature deaths in America and 1 in 7 in Europe… The risk of mortality increased significantly throughout the overweight range, with every 5 units higher BMI above 25 kg/m2 linked to a 31 percent higher risk of premature death.” (Source)
“A new analysis of almost one million people from around the world has shown that obesity can trim years off life expectancy. Moderate obesity, which is now common, reduces life expectancy by about 3 years, and that severe obesity, which is still uncommon, can shorten a person’s life by 10 years. This 10 year loss is equal to the effects of lifelong smoking.” (Source)
And even when you zoom in to the USA, the numbers aren’t any better:
- One Lancet study suggested between 1986 and 2006, obesity was responsible for ~18% of deaths among Black and White men/women within the USA (imagine what the numbers would be if you included every ethnicity)
- In 2004, it was projected that 300,000 Americans die every year because of obesity
So what now?
What Can Humanity Do To Stop Being Obese?
Excluding extremely rare health problems where weight gain is a common symptom and metabolism is heavily destroyed, we already “know” what we need to do.
We shouldn’t need a multi-national consulting company like McKinsey to tell us to push the plate away at the dinner table:
And considering how I have SIX YEARS of premium content on fat loss available for free, a lack of information clearly isn’t the problem.
Diets, exercise routines, supplements, peptides — it’s all there for you to read and use immediately.
However, I want to offer a few uncommon pointers for addressing obesity on a global scale…
First, start with the children and prevent them from getting fat!
As discussed on an old podcast I did with personal trainer Mike Ritter, obesity rarely shows up out of nowhere as an adult.
A growing majority of obese people had a headstart in their childhood with bad nutrition, a lack of physical activity, and parents who 100% failed in their responsibility to raise healthy children.
Install the habits of fully optimized living as early as possible and make sure they stick for life.
Second, if you are obese, do NOT start hormone replacement therapy until a good portion of your fat has been eliminated.
I’m going to quote The TOT Bible verbatim, specifically one of the Golden Rules: If your body fat is over 30% (i.e. you are obese) and you start therapeutic testosterone without a FIRM COMMITMENT to reducing body fat, you will fail miserably.
Not only will you be at higher risk of side effects as a result of unbalanced estrogen levels (due to excess aromatase enzyme in your fat tissue), but multiple biological systems are not working properly when you are disgustingly fat.
Rarely will a progressive physician immediately start you on testosterone as an obese person.
Third, You Are Worthy of Being Lean, Healthy, Whole and Complete.
IT IS OK for You to drop body fat.
The lies you tell yourSELF from other people who make fun of you or comment about your ‘weight problem’ are not OK.
KNOW your worth and understand you are worthy and more than capable of making the change you want to see.
Your #1 priority should be fat reduction via your epigenetic lifestyle habits, followed by possible hormonal optimization and most importantly, working on the inner you in order to feel worthy of being lean.
Raise Your Vibration To Optimize Your Love Creation!
PS – If you want to discover the best ways to lose fat rapidly, keep it off forever after dieting, and avoid putting it back on while you build muscle, join The Fully Optimized Health Private Membership Group.
It’s your greatest opportunity to fully optimize your health, gain total access to myself and network with high-level men and women looking to 10X their life.