A global look at cardiac risk factors

Two main measures of a person's risk for heart disease -- diabetes and high body mass index -- have risen rapidly across the globe since 1980, according to a massive new study. However, both factors vary greatly by country.

  • BMI
  • Diabetes

From 1980 to 2008, the average BMI for men rose in all but eight countries; the average for women rose in all but 19. Globally, nearly 10 percent of men and nearly 14 percent of women are obese, meaning their BMI is 30 or more. In some countries, particularly in the Pacific Islands, obese is average. Countries with a high average BMI tend to have high rates of diabetes, and vice versa.

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About 347 million adults in the world have diabetes, more than twice as many as in 1980. Aging and growing populations account for much of that difference, but the disease is becoming more prevalent as well. East Asian countries such as Singapore had some of the lowest BMIs, and diabetes rates there actually decreased. Diabetes rates in adults since 1980, adjusted for age:

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SOURCE: Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group.

GRAPHIC: Wilson Andrews, Bonnie Berkowitz and Todd Lindeman - The Washington Post. Updated June 25, 2011.