Alarming Rates of Childhood Obesity

Posted On: 10-13-2017
Alarming Rates of Childhood Obesity
A new study reports that childhood obesity throughout the world has increased more than tenfold since 1975. The study was published in The Lancet journal, and the research was led by the World Health Organization and Imperial College London. Researchers looked at data from more than 2,400 earlier studies.

Study author James Bentham (of the University of Kent in England), stated that rates of child and adolescent obesity have increased over the past 40 years in most countries throughout the world.

Although the average body mass index (BMI) among children has plateaued in Europe and North America as a whole, more than 1 in 5 children or adolescents is obese in the United States and 1 in ten is obese in the UK. By 2016, overall obesity rates had jumped from fewer than 1% to 6% (for girls) and 8% (for boys). The rates are at 20% or higher in some countries, including the United States.

Overall, 50 million girls and 74 million boys are obese, and the rates are accelerating in low and middle-income regions. Another 213 million youths are considered overweight. These accelerated rates can contribute to serious health problems later in life. Another of the study’s authors, Leanne Riley (of the World Health Organization) stated that without action, there will be immense human and economic cost.

However, the study also revealed that more children throughout the world are underweight than overweight, especially in countries with low food security. Approximately 75 million girls and 117 million boys were considered moderately or severely underweight. Nearly two-thirds of these adolescents were from South Asia.

A two-pronged approach to both improve nutrition and reduce weight gain is needed.

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