Double burden of diseases worldwide: coexistence of undernutrition and overnutrition-related non-communicable chronic diseases

Obes Rev. 2018 Jan;19(1):49-61. doi: 10.1111/obr.12605. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Objective: This systematic examination and meta-analysis examined the scope and variation of the worldwide double burden of diseases and identified related socio-demographic factors.

Design: We searched PubMed for studies published in English from January 1, 2000, through September 28, 2016, that reported on double disease burden. Twenty-nine studies from 18 high-income, middle-income and low-income countries met inclusion criteria and provided 71 obesity-undernutrition ratios, which were included in meta-regression analysis.

Results: All high-income countries had a much higher prevalence of obesity than undernutrition (i.e. all the obesity/undernutrition ratios >1); 55% of the ratios in lower middle-income and low-income countries were <1, but only 28% in upper middle-income countries. Meta-analysis showed a pooled obesity-undernutrition ratio of 4.3 (95% CI = 3.1-5.5), which varied by country income level, subjects' age and over time. The average ratio was higher in high-income rather than that in lower middle-income and low-income countries (β [SE] = 10.8 [2.6]), in adults versus children (7.1 [2.2]) and in data collected since 2000 versus before 2000 (5.2 [1.5]; all P values < 0.05).

Conclusions: There are considerable differences in the obesity versus undernutrition ratios and in their prevalence by country income level, age groups and over time, which may be a consequence of the cumulative exposure to an obesogenic environment.

Keywords: Double burden; obesity; undernutrition; worldwide.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness
  • Developed Countries / economics
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / economics
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / economics
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overnutrition / economics
  • Overnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors