efe-epaRio de Janeiro

The percentage of Brazilians who are obese soared 60 percent in the past 10 years, rising from 11.8 percent of the population in 2006 to 18.9 percent in 2016, the Health Ministry said in a report Monday.

The percentage of people who are overweight grew by 26.3 percent, with more than half the population of Latin America's largest country now falling into this category.

The percentage of Brazilians who are overweight rose from 42.6 percent of the population in 2006 to 53.8 percent in 2016.

The number of people at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and heart attacks, all caused by being obese or overweight, rose markedly since 2006, the ministry said.

Some 40 percent of people have high blood pressure and nearly 10 percent suffer from diabetes, making overeating and not hunger the main challenge for health officials.

The report is produced annually based on telephone surveys of people over the age of 18 living in Brazil's 27 state capitals.