Living on processed foods and junk nutrition, American girls are now the fattest in the world, study finds

A study that was led by the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand found that schoolgirls in the United States and the United Kingdom are the worst in the world for having stomach fat, with half of American and British girls in both countries’ total population classified as “overfat”, making them at risk of incurring diabetes and cancer during their later years.

The new study, which was published in the journal American Cancer Society and Frontiers in Public Health, mapped the countries who had the fattest citizens in the world – more than half of the girls in these countries have too much body fat and their waist measurement is more than half their height, while under half of the boys in these countries are considered overfat.

The study analyzed data from the United Nation’s Development Programme’s Human Development Report for 2014.

The prevalence of overfat populations in 30 of the world’s most developed countries is substantially higher than recent global estimations, with the largest growth due to a relatively recent increased number of people with excess abdominal fat,” Professor Paul Laursen of Auckland University of Technology, who is also the leader of the performance physiology team at Dunedin-based outdoor sports store High Performance Sport, said.

Despite a levelling off appearance of being overweight and/or obese in some developed countries, the ‘overfat’ pandemic continues to grow,” Prof. Laursen added, noting that up to 90 percent of men, 80 percent of women, and 50 percent of children in developed countries are overfat. On average, the oprevalence of ‘overfat’ adults and children in developed countries is extremely high, and substantially greater than that of overweight and obese individuals.” (Related: Three-quarters of world’s population now overweight or obese…the scourge of processed foods will bankrupt the world.)

This problem is most common in the U.S. and the U.K., where a preference for the Western diet – which comprises of red meat, refined sugars, and saturated fat but very little fiber – is very prevalent.

The study showed how other countries fared when it came to weight gain. As compared with the U.S. and the U.K.’s “overfat” percentage of girls coming in at 51.9 percent and 51.4 percent respectively, other offenders included Greece (51.3 percent), New Zealand (50.9 percent), Israel (48.8 percent), Ireland (48.7 percent), Italy (46.5 percent), Slovenia (46.2 percent), Spain (46 percent), Australia (45.2 percent), and Iceland (45.2 percent).

Meanwhile, the countries which have the least population of overweight girls include Brunei (27.8 percent), Japan (34.6 percent), South Korea (35.4 percent), Singapore (35.5 percent), France (38.2 percent), and Norway (38.2 percent).

In the U.K., more than eight in 10 people are also considered overfat, with 86.6 percent of the total male population regarded as “too fat” and the women following close behind at 77.2 percent.

Tam Fry, of the U.K.-based non-profit organization National Obesity Forum, is concerned about the recent findings, saying: “How many more times will researchers have to provide these figures before health ministers sit up and take notice?”

According to scientists, overfat children are likely to develop issues that are more dangerous than obesity such as heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Being overfat can also be linked to lung disease, gallbladder disease, gout, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and other disorders.

Overfat individuals have excess body fat, a high degree of cardiometabolic disregulation that can promote disease risk factors and chronic disease, increased morbidity and mortality, reduced quality of life, and pose a rising economic burden.”

How to determine if you are overfat

Measure the circumference of your waist at the level of your belly button, then compare it to your height. Your waist measurement should not be more than half of your height, so, if you are 5 feet and 10 inches tall, your waist should not be more than 35 inches; if you are 5 feet and 4 inches tall, your waist should not be more than 32 inches.

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