Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Ten times more children and teens are obese than 40 years ago

Ten times more children and teens are obese than 40 years ago

Experts analyzed data from 2400 studies that tracked the height and weight of 32 million children 5 to 19 years old. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.4 commits the world to reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030, including through prevention of obesity.

"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 one in five young people in the US and one in 10 in the United Kingdom are obese".

Obesity among young people in Europe and America has levelled off. Several Arab countries (eg Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) also had similar rates.

Polynesia and Micronesia had the highest rates of child obesity past year, 25.4 percent in girls and 22.4 percent in boys, followed by "the high-income English-speaking region" that includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Britain.

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Study leader Professor Majid Ezzati said: "Obesity rates in children and adolescents have soared globally, and continue to do so in low- and middle-income countries".

Childhood and teen obesity rates have leveled off in the United States, north-western Europe and other rich countries, but remain "unacceptably high" there, researchers at Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

"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 one in five young people in the US and one in 10 in the United Kingdom are obese", said James Bentham, co-author of the paper. Researchers warn that despite massive alarm flags coming from scientists and physicians, governments and policymakers have been slow to react and we are now seeing the effects of this lack of action. They say that current policies are especially harmful to people in developing countries and the underprivileged. (.) But our data show that transition from underweight to overweight obesity can occur rapidly, warns Prof.

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"There is always a need for policies that encourage food security in the country and the low-income households". With an indoor ecosystem and very little physical activity, Indian children are at risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening conditions, the report stated.

Nevertheless, the large number of moderately or severely underweight children and adolescents in 2016 (75 million girls and 117 boys) still represents a major public health challenge, especially in the poorest parts of the world.

Furthermore, these children aren't at opposite ends of the spectrum - data shows that underweight children can quickly become overweight, due to the same reasons mentioned above.

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