Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Global obesity levels in children rise tenfold, according to study

Global obesity levels in children rise tenfold, according to study

"There is a continued need for policies that enhance food security in low-income countries and households, especially in South Asia", said study author Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London.

While being overweight is associated with earlier onset of cardiac and metabolic issues and some cancers, being underweight also can carry serious consequences.

"Comprehensive responses are needed to create healthy environments that can support individuals in making healthy choices grounded on knowledge and skills related to health and nutrition".

Image copyright NCD Risk Factor Collaboration Image caption The highest rates of obesity are shown in red, followed by orange and yellow.

Starting in the late 1970s and continuing through the 1980s, much of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and parts of Latin America were affected.

Researchers found that by 2016 overall obesity rates had jumped from less than 1 percent to almost 6 percent for girls and nearly 8 percent for boys - with rates at 20 percent or higher in the United States, Egypt and some Polynesian islands. BMI is a standard measurement that relates weight and height. An additional 213 million were overweight in 2016.

Polynesia and Micronesia have the highest rate of all - around half of the young population in these countries is overweight or obese.

Within five years, more children will be obese than underweight, with some countries struggling with both overweight and malnourished youngsters.

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"We do see it on a day-to-day basis and it makes me worry to see where these kids are heading", she said.

Particularly, countries should aim to "reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods", as well as "the time children spend on screen-based and sedentary leisure activities by promoting greater participation in physical activity through active recreation and sports", said Dr.

The findings highlight the "disconnect" between the global dialogue on overweight and obesity and initiatives focusing on under-nutrition, Ezzati said. Achievement of meaningful impacts on childhood obesity requires more than single interventions, such as taxing soda or traffic light food labelling.

"England is at the forefront of addressing childhood obesity - our sugar reduction programme and the Government's sugar levy are world-leading but this is just the beginning of a long journey to tackle the challenge of a generation". "By releasing (the data), we hope to generate more political action from countries".

"We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods", Ezzati said in a statement.

"It's our hope that countries will see how big the problem is (in their population), know the solution and be able to take some steps", said Waqanivalu.

Childhood and teen obesity rates have levelled 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.

"Dietary patterns are changing rapidly and accelerating obesity. and will lead to chronic disease down the road", said Hu.

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