Child obesity grows tenfold since 1975

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By comparison, there were 117 million underweight boys and 75 million underweight girls last year after the number peaked around the year 2000, the study said.

The number of kids and teenagers with obesity increased from 11 million to 124 million worldwide between 1975 and 2016, researchers in the United Kingdom and at the World Health Organization (WHO) have found.

WHO's warning came in Tuesday's publication of a study, undertaken in conjunction with Imperial College London, which measured the weight and height of nearly 130 million people above the age of five worldwide.

"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", commented Dr Fiona Bull of the WHO. The prevalence of underweight children decreased from 9.2 percent to 8.4 percent of girls aged 5-19 over the study period, and from 14.8 percent to 12.4 percent in boys. About 20 percent of girls and 28 percent of boys in South Asia are either moderately or severely underweight, which means they are at high risk of pregnancy complications in the case of teen girls and infectious diseases in the case of both genders.

"Over 40 years we have gone from about 11 million to a more than tenfold increase to over 120 million obese children and adolescents throughout the world", lead author Professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial's School of Public Health, told a news conference.

"Very few policies and programs are trying to make healthy foods accessible to poor families, such as complete cereals and fresh fruit and vegetables", he lamented in a statement accompanying study. The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and also malnourished.

PARIS-The world had 10 times as many obese children and teenagers past year than in 1975, but underweight kids still outnumbered them, a study said Wednesday.

Although figures have levelled off there is a ticking fat time bomb as these children are more likely to be fat as adults or suffer ill health caused by being overweight.

Polynesia and Micronesia had the highest obesity rate in boys and girls for 2016, at 25.4 percent in girls and 22.4 percent in boys. Warning of a "double burden" of malnutrition, researchers said the rate of increase in obesity far outstripped the decline in under-nutrition.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in five children between the ages of 6-19 is obese.

Meanwhile in Europe, girls in Malta and boys in Greece had the highest obesity rates, comprising 11.3 percent and 16.7 percent of the population respectively.

By contrast, the rise in average BMI has accelerated in many parts of Asia.

The country with the biggest rise in BMI for girls was Samoa, which rose by 5.6 kg/m2, and for boys was the Cook Islands, which rose by 4.4 kg/m2.

Excessive weight gain in childhood and adolescence is associated with a higher risk and earlier onset of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, worse psychosocial and educational outcomes, and lifelong harms since weight loss is hard to achieve.

Irish children are the eighth most overweight in Europe, and 58th in the world, according to a new study.

The study was published in The Lancet on Wednesday as the world celebrated World Obesity Day. Countries should aim particularly to reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods.

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