Global health experts have watched with increasing alarm as the waistlines of people in developing countries have started to widen with the adoption of a "Western" lifestyle. Obesity is of such concern because of its heightened risks for other diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

In developing countries, the number of people with diabetes is set to rise to 228 million by 2030 from 84 million estimated in 2000. The link between obesity and diabetes is so strong because obesity renders individuals unable to properly process glucose — about 90% of type 2 diabetes is due to being overweight. Obesity and diabetes also raise the risk for cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. Diabetic nephropathy was the most common cause of end-stage renal disease in 9 out of 10 Asian countries, say the authors, which could be deadly for countries unable to cope with the health repercussions.