Obesity is growing into a global epidemic and alarming trends are seen in Asian countries. Although obesity is defined by body mass index (BMI), waist circumference has emerged as a more specific marker of metabolic risk. BMI and waist circumference thresholds vary between ethnicities and values are lower for Asian populations. Asians are at an increased risk of developing diabetes and early death from cardiovascular complications at lower levels of BMI and waist circumference. Obesity, especially central obesity is strongly associated with development and worsening of type 2 diabetes. The developing countries may find it difficult to face a surge in diabetes with early death and loss of productivity. Therefore, early action to contain an epidemic of obesity should be considered an urgent global priority.