Youth Obesity Increases 10-fold in Four Decades


An additional 213 million children aged 5-19 were overweight previous year, but fell below the threshold for obesity, according to the largest ever study, based on height and weight measurements of 129 million people.

The research analyzed data from 24,000 different studies that tracked the height and weight of 32 million children between the ages of 5 and 19.

Published Tuesday in the journal Lancet, the study included more than 31 million people ages 5 to 19.

According to the Newspaper, It added that nearly two thirds of the world's children and adolescents, who are moderately or severely underweight, live in South Asia.The study, led by the Imperial College London (UK) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), was published ahead of World Obesity Day (October 11) in the Lancet. In 2016, 75 million girls and 117 million boys were underweight.

Lead author of the report, Majid Ezzati, professor at Imperial's School of Public Health, said: "Over the past four decades, obesity rates in children and adolescents have soared globally, and continue to do so in low- and middle-income countries".

"Very few policies and programmes attempt to make healthy foods such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables affordable to poor families", Ezzati said in a statement.

Children are now more likely to be overweight than not in a number of middle-income countries, including in regions such as East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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.

Researchers called for better nutrition at home and at school, as well as regulations and taxes to alleviate the impending crisis.

"It's the changing environments, food, behaviours, portions, consumption patterns have completely changed over the last 40 years".

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

Much of the increase in recent years has taken place in developing countries while obesity rates among young people in Europe and the USA were said to have plateaued.

Last year, the heaviest kids and teens were in Nauru, the Cook Islands, and Palau.

Obesity among young people in Europe and America has levelled off.

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.

When it came to underweight children, India was found to have the highest prevalence of moderately and severely underweight children and teenagers. 97 million of the world's moderately or severely underweight children and adolescents lived in India in 2016.

As part of the solutions, the World Health Organization released a summary of the Ending Childhood Obesity Implementation Plan, offering countries clear guidance to curb childhood and adolescent obesity. Countries should aim particularly to reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods.

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

The number of children and adolescents underweight decreased slowly since 2000 - except in South and south-East Asia and in central, eastern and western Africa.

BMI is used to determine whether you are in a healthy weight range for your height.

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