In the next 12 years, the global population could see a significant increase in the number of overweight or obese people, with a new study claiming at least 4 billion individuals would weigh more than the normal average.

The World Obesity Federation recently released its World Obesity Atlas 2023 report predicting the global economic impact of overweight and obesity by 2035. According to the organization, if prevention or treatment measures do not improve by then, the world could see an economic impact of $4.32 trillion annually.

The figure accounts for almost 3% of the global GDP, almost similar to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Alongside this, 51% or about 4 billion people could be overweight or obese by 2035. The organization said 1 in 4 people, or around 2 billion, would live with obesity should the current trends prevail.

In 2020, around 2.6 billion people fell into the overweight and obese categories, accounting for 38% of the global population. The World Obesity Federation predicts that in 12 years, childhood obesity rates could more than double the 2020 levels. Around 208 million (100% increase) boys and 175 million girls (125% increase) are expected to be overweight or obese by then.

The organization noted that low-income countries could face rapid increases in obesity prevalence should the trends remain. Of the ten countries expected to report the greatest increases in obesity cases, nine would come from low or lower-middle-income countries from Asia or Africa.

“This year's Atlas is a clear warning that by failing to address obesity today, we risk serious repercussions in the future. It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents,” World Obesity Federation President Louise Baur said in a press release.

“Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation. That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity and actively involving young people in the solutions. If we act together now, we have the opportunity to help billions of people in the future.”

The report highlights the need for developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity and the people affected by the condition. The organization will present its latest data to United Nations policymakers and member states next week, according to CTV News.

In 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an increase in the number of states with 35% or more obesity cases — from nine in 2018 to 16 in 2020. Experts said the lockdowns amid the pandemic made people gain weight by changing everyone’s eating habits and daily routines.

The CDC has since vowed to take action by reinforcing comprehensive efforts to tackle existing health inequalities in different parts of society. The public health agency said it would like to address the lack of access to proper healthcare by some people and map out cases across the country to identify high-prevalence places and exert more effort in those areas.

Competitors take part in the 'King of the North' gaming festival held at the Manchester Academy venue in Manchester, northern England on March 22, 2017. Bloomberg has placed the U.S. on the 35th spot in its 2019 Healthiest Country Index due to obesity and low life expectancy in the country. Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images