Childhood, adolescent obesity up tenfold in past 4 decades: World Health Organization warns

Childhood, adolescent obesity up tenfold in past 4 decades: World Health Organization warns

Childhood, adolescent obesity up tenfold in past 4 decades: World Health Organization warns

The scientists in the United Kingdom and at the World Health Organization led an analysis of data from more than 2,400 studies that tracked the height and weight of about 32 million children from 5 to 19 years old.

The study analyzed weight and height measurements from almost 130 million people to calculate their BMI, and was published in the Lancet to mark World Obesity Day.

"These data highlight, remind and reinforce that overweight and obesity is a global health crisis today, and threatens to worsen in coming years unless we start taking drastic action", said Dr. Fiona Bull, programme coordinator for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases at the WHO.

However by 2016, 6% of girls in this age group (50 million) and nearly 8% of boys (74 million) were obese.

Researchers warn that if current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022.

A professor of global environmental health at the Imperial College London in the UK, Majid Ezzati said that Over the past four decades, obesity rates in children and adolescents have soared globally. "Very few policies and programs that try to make it accessible to poor families, healthy foods, such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables", he deplored, in a statement accompanying the study.

"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 USA and one in 10 in the United Kingdom are obese", said James Bentham, co-author of the paper.

Globally, more children are still underweight rather than obese although the researchers think that will change by 2022 if trends continue.

Healthy nutritious foods are becoming too expensive for poor families and communities, he continued, urging for more availability at home and school of these kind of foods, especially in poor families and communities.

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In 2016, the number of obese children and teenagers rose to 124 million.

"They should also reduce the time children spend on screen-based and sedentary leisure activities by promoting greater participation in physical activity through active recreation and sports", Dr Bull said.

Child obesity has peaked in Britain in the past decade, meaning it is now only mid-table in the obesity league as other countries get fatter faster.

The areas of the world with the largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents were East Asia, the high-income English-speaking region, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Last year, the heaviest children and adolescents were in Nauru, the Cook Islands and Palau - tiny islands in Micronesia and the South Pacific Ocean.

Over the same period, the prevalence of obesity rose worldwide from under 1 percent for both girls and boys, to 5.6 percent for girls and 7.8 percent for boys.

Obesity and smoking are now the two main drivers behind the "soaring" number of cases of cancers, heart attacks, diabetes and strokes, reports the newspaper - the biggest killers in the modern world. Conversely, the rise in high income countries has slowed and plateaued.

On the other end of the spectrum, South Asia - and especially India - had the world's highest prevalence of underweight children and teens.

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