One woman in wheel chair with two older women and one older man standing in a park
© WA Health

These three pandemics—obesity, undernutrition, and climate change—represent The Global Syndemic that affects most people in every country and region worldwide.

The Lancet Commission on Obesity was formed following the publication of two Lancet Series on Obesity in 2011 and 2015. The Commission was under the auspices of The Lancet, the University of Auckland, George Washington University, and the World Obesity Federation. 

Malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks, is the leading cause of poor health globally. In the near future, the health effects of climate change will considerably compound these health challenges. Climate change can be considered a pandemic because of its sweeping effects on the health of humans and the natural systems we depend on (i.e. planetary health).

These three pandemics constitute a syndemic, or synergy of epidemics, because they co-occur in time and place, interact with each other to produce complex sequelae, and share common underlying societal drivers. The Commission recommends comprehensive actions to address obesity within the context of The Global Syndemic, which represents the paramount health challenge for humans, the environment, and our planet in the 21st century.