According to the Surveillance Survey of Risk Factors and Protection for Chronic Diseases, conducted by Vigitel for the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the percentage of obese people increased from 11.8% in 2006 to 19.8% in 2018.
Adults aged between 25 and 34 years old and those with a low level of education were most affected.
The Vigitel survey was based on a total of 52,395 telephone interviews with people over 18 years, conducted between February and December last year.
It also questioned individuals on physical activity, diabetes, hypertension and alcohol abuse.
The survey results are used by the Ministry of Health to monitor the prevalence and distribution of the main determinants of chronic and non-communicable diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that NCDs accounted for 71% of the total 57 million deaths in the world in 2016, and in Brazil, they were responsible for 74% of total deaths in 2016.
Known risk factors include smoking, a poor diet, lack of physical inactivity and excessive alcohol consumption.
Now in its 13th year, the Vigitel survey says it “contributes to the formulation of public policies that promote the improvement of the quality of life of the Brazilian population".
IDEC Patricia Gentil, nutritionist at consumer rights organization IDEC, which is in favor of front-of-pack warning labels currently in place in Chile, said the data show Brazil is far below the goals set in agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Although obesity appears to stagnate in recent measurements, overweight continues to rise. In addition, the country has not met the goals of reducing regular consumption of soda and artificial juice, nor the goal of increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, both set with the World Health Organization,” she said.
“To stop this growth in the adult population for good, we need to invest in intersectoral health and food and nutrition security policies.”