Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

WHO Warns of Child Obesity Epidemic

Obesity Global cost of obesity-related illness to hit $1.2 trillion
Marlene Weaver | 11 October, 2017, 05:11

While the obesity rate among children in rich countries may have peaked, kids in developing countries are increasingly putting on unhealthy pounds, according to research released Tuesday.

The researchers, from Imperial College London and the World Health Organization, analyzed data on trends between 1975 and 2016 in child and adolescent obesity in 200 countries, pulling from more than 2,400 population-based studies that included height and weight measurements for children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19.

"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 1 in 5 young people in the U.S.A. and 1 in 10 in the United Kingdom are obese", said Bentham, of the University of Kent in England.

The authors found that the global prevalence of child and adolescent obesity increased for both girls and boys, from 0.7 percent to 5.6 percent for girls, and from 0.9 percent to 7.8 percent for boys.

We all know that obesity is on the rise, but just how much so isn't often brought home to us until we see stats like this: there are 10 times more obese children - or 124 milion - in the world now there were in 1975. Nearly two-thirds of these children live in South Asia, where some governments' ability to feed their citizens has been unable to keep up with countries' booming populations.

Overall, one in every five children on the planet is either obese - meaning more than two standard deviations from the median on growth charts - or overweight - meaning more than one standard deviation.

Study author Dr James Bentham, from the University of Kent, said: "This is not an excuse for complacency as more than one in five young people in the US and one in 10 in the United Kingdom are obese".

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Co-researcher Dr Harry Rutter, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "This is a huge problem that will get worse".

If current trends continue, though, the number of children and adolescents who are obese would surpass the number of underweight children and adolescents by 2022. On the South Asia chart, the blue and purple represent children who are moderately or severely underweight, the green those at a healthy weight.

Canada was ranked 44th for obesity among boys and 67th for girls.

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

The WHO has published an Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) Implementation Plan, which it says gives countries clear guidance on effective actions to curb childhood obesity. "As the clock goes forward, it becomes more and more concentrated in South Asia and in the poorest pockets of Africa", Ezzati said.

Image copyright NCD Risk Factor Collaboration Image caption The highest rates of obesity are shown in red, followed by orange and yellow. In many parts of Africa and India, 30 percent to 50 percent of boys were underweight.

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