The team has reviewed the distinctive features of excess weight, its causes, and related prevention and management efforts, as well as data gaps and recommendations for future research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Obesity is rising in every region of the world, and no country has been successful at reversing the epidemic once it has begun. In LMICs, overweight is higher in women compared with men, in urban compared with rural settings, and in older compared with younger individuals; however, the urban-rural overweight differential is shrinking in many countries. Overweight occurs alongside persistent burdens of underweight in LMICs, especially in young women. Changes in the global diet and physical activity are among the hypothesized leading contributors to obesity. Emerging risk factors include environmental contaminants, chronic psychosocial stress, neuroendocrine dysregulation, and genetic/epigenetic mechanisms. Data on effective strategies to prevent the onset of obesity in LMICs or elsewhere are limited.
Expanding the research in this area is a key priority and has important possibilities for reverse innovation that may also inform interventions in high-income countries.