Childhood Obesity Up Worldwide Almost 10-Fold Over 4 Decades

Obesity is one of the biggest killers of the modern world

Obesity is one of the biggest killers of the modern world

The team used the height and weight data of 129 million people older than five to estimate body mass trends for 200 countries from 1975 to 2016.

The authors found that the global prevalence of child and adolescent obesity increased for both girls and boys, from 0.7 percent to 5.6 percent for girls, and from 0.9 percent to 7.8 percent for boys.

Rates of child and adolescent obesity were highest (above 30pc) in some islands in Polynesia, and were around 20pc or higher in the USA and some countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

While obesity in children and teens appears to have plateaued in rich countries, its rise continued in low- and middle-income countries, they found.

Over the same time period, the rise in obesity has particularly accelerated in East and South Asia.

"We are seeing persistent underweight and rising overweight at the same time", Ezzati explained.

"While there have been some initiatives led by governments, communities or or schools to increase awareness about childhood and adolescent obesity, most high income countries have been reluctant to use taxes and industry regulations to change eating and drinking behaviours to tackle child obesity", said Professor Majid Ezzati, study author from Imperial College London.

Obesity ballooned in every region in the world, while the number of underweight children slowly decreased everywhere except south and southeast Asia, and central, east and west Africa. The red and orange on the Polynesia and Micronesia chart represent children who are overweight or obese; green indicates those who are at a healthy weight.

"While average BMI among children and adolescents has recently plateaued in Europe and North America, this is not an excuse for complacency as more than 1 in 5 young people in the U.S.A. and 1 in 10 in the United Kingdom are obese", said Bentham, of the University of Kent in England.

Deputy Head, Bridget Norman said: "I think children, no matter what age, are always thinking about their appearance and how they look but I think so long as we focus on the positive side, about healthiness, rather than the vanity side then it's ok". "Even though we may see some signs of improvement, we can not be complacent, and we need to ramp up our actions much more significantly to act across the life-course and across all of society", said Harry Rutter, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Type 2 diabetes is typically an adult-onset condition, he told CNN.

The research also showed that around the world 75 million girls and 117 million boys were moderately or severely underweight in 2016.

As for adults in Switzerland, 41% are overweight, and 10.3% are obese - making Switzerland average in comparison with other OECD countries. But if the current trends continue, that will reverse by 2022. Numbers were similar among boys in 2016, at 58.1% and 51%, respectively.

"We are looking at a generation of children who are gaining weight in their... childhood and will live with the effects over their lifetime of obesity", he told CTV News.

But even as the public health community wrestles with childhood obesity, underweight children in impoverished communities remains a major issue. "Obesity and underweight are just as important", he said.

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