A study published in the Lancet revealed almost half a billion adults worldwide have a BMI over 30.
Researchers examined data from 9.1 million people across 199 countries between 1980 and 2008. During this time, the proportion of obese men rose from 4.8% to 9.8% and obese women from 7.9% to 13.8%.
Researchers found that average levels of total blood cholesterol fell in western countries in North America, Australasia and Europe. However, levels increased in east and southeast Asia and the Pacific region.
In addition, systolic BP levels are highest in the Baltic and east and west Africa, reaching 135mmHg for women and 138mmHg for men. Researchers said these countries had reached levels seen in western Europe in the 1980s before their decline.
Professor Majid Ezzati, the senior author of the study from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: 'Our results show that overweight and obesity, high BP and high cholesterol are no longer western problems or problems of wealthy nations. Their presence has shifted towards low and middle income countries, making them global problems.'
But Professor Ezzati said it was 'heartening' to see many countries had reduced BP and cholesterol - including the UK - despite rising BMI.
He added: 'Improved screening and treatment helped lower these risk factors in high-income countries, as did using less salt and healthier, unsaturated fats.'
|UK obesity data|