Contrary to the dominant beliefs, more than 55% of the global rise in BMI from 1985 to 2017 was due to increases in BMI in rural areas.
This is the main conclusion from a new study published in the journal Nature.
Global rates of obesity among people who live in the countryside are rising faster than those among city dwellers partly due to greater access in urban areas to healthier foods and places to exercise, researchers claim.
The study analyses 33 years of trends in body mass index (BMI) across 200 countries and territories.
“The results of this massive global study overturn commonly-held perceptions that more people living in cities is the main cause of the global rise in obesity,” said to Reuters Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London who co-led the work.
The study found that between 1985 to 2017, average rural BMI increased by 2.1 in women and men. In cities, however, the gain was 1.3 and 1.6 in women and men respectively.