The number of overweight and obese people has reached almost one billion in the developing world - overtaking rates in industrialized countries, a report has found.

The report by the U.K.'s Overseas Development Institute said the number of obese people has more than tripled in the developing world since 1980.

In 2008, more than 900 million people in poor countries were classed as overweight compared with around 550 million in high-income countries - almost twice as many.

Steve Wiggins, the report's author, said: "The statistics are quite sensational, it is a tripling of the number of people who are considered overweight and obese in the developing world since 1980.

"That takes the number to more than 900 million and that is more than the number of overweight and obese people that we have in the high-income countries, which is probably around 570 million, something like that.

"It is a very rapidly emerging problem and it is now of a very large size."

Obesity rates in China have almost doubled since 1980
Rates of obesity are still rising in richer countries, but not at the same rate as in the developing world.

Two countries with particularly high obesity rates are China and Mexico, where the numbers of overweight people have almost doubled since 1980.

In South Africa, obesity has risen by a third and now has a higher rate than the U.K.

North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America all have similar overweight and obesity rates to Europe.

Explaining the developing world's obesity epidemic, Wiggins said: "It is associated with incomes and urbanization and a more sedentary lifestyle, so it is those emerging countries which have done the best at raising their incomes.

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