Global child­hood obe­sity rates now 10 times higher than in 1975

The Miracle - - National & Int -

There are now 10 times as many obese chil­dren and teens around the world than there were 40 years ago, and if cur­rent trends con­tinue, there will soon be even more kids dan­ger­ously over­weight than un­der­weight, ac­cord­ing to a new World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion study. The study, pub­lished ahead of World Obe­sity Day, found that the rates of child­hood obe­sity soared from less than 1 per cent in 1975, to nearly 6 per cent in girls and nearly 8 per cent in boys in 2016. Put an­other way, there were only 11 mil­lion obese kids and teens around the world in 1975. By 2016, that num­ber had risen to 124 mil­lion, with sev­eral mil­lion more chil­dren con­sid­ered over­weight but be­low the thresh­old for obe­sity. Kids and teens in many coun­tries in East Asia, Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean have rapidly moved from be­ing mostly un­der­weight 40 years ago to be­ing mostly over­weight. Cur­rent rates of child­hood obe­sity are high­est among many Poly­ne­sian islands, the U.S., and many coun­tries in the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Ara­bia. In 2016, the child­hood obe­sity rate was high­est in Poly­ne­sia and Mi­crone­sia, where a stag­ger­ing 25.4 per cent of girls and 22.4 per cent of in boys are not just over­weight but obese. Among high-in­come coun­tries, the United States had the high­est obe­sity rates, where girls ranked 15th and boys ranked 12th world­wide. Canada was ranked 44th for obe­sity among boys and 67th for girls. Over­all, 9.9 per cent of Cana­dian girls are obese, as are 14.7 per cent of boys. The full re­sults ap­pear in The Lancet jour­nal. There are still more un­der­weight than over­weight kids in the world. But if the cur­rent trends con­tinue, that will re­verse by 2022. The study’s lead au­thor, Prof. Ma­jid Ez­zati of Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don’s School of Pub­lic Health, says obe­sity rates con­tinue to soar in low- and mid­dle-in­come coun­tries, in part be­cause of the grow­ing avail­abil­ity of high-calo­rie, lownu­tri­ent pro­cessed foods. And while obe­sity rates have mostly plateaued in higher in­come coun­tries, they re­main “un­ac­cept­ably” high. “We are look­ing at a gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren who are gain­ing weight in their child­hood and will live with the ef­fects over their life­time of obe­sity,” he told CTV News. Ez­zati said the “wor­ry­ing trend” of ris­ing obe­sity rates re­flects the im­pact of food mar­ket­ing and poli­cies around the world, not­ing that un­healthy foods are ag­gres­sively mar­keted to chil­dren through­out the world. “At the same time, health­ier op­tions, fresh foods, are priced out of reach of the poor­est peo­ple round the world,” he said. He said what’s needed are reg­u­la­tions and taxes to pro­tect chil­dren from un­healthy foods, as well as ways to make healthy, nu­tri­tious food more avail­able at home and school. Dr. Kather­ine Mor­ri­son, a pe­di­atric en­docri­nol­o­gist and as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at the depart­ment of pe­di­atrics at McMaster Univer­sity in Hamilton, Ont., said obese chil­dren and teens are “much more likely” to de­velop heart dis­ease and other health problems like di­a­betes in mid­dle age. “The health con­se­quences cer­tainly are ap­par­ent in adult­hood,” she told CTV News. “We do see it on a day-to-day ba­sis and it makes me worry to see where th­ese kids are head­ing,” she said. “Our job is to find the tools to help them lead health­ier lives.” Dr. Nathalie Far­pourLam­bert, the pres­i­dent-elect of the Euro­pean As­so­ci­a­tion for the Study of Obe­sity, said in a state­ment that obe­sity in child­hood has a ten­dency to con­tinue into adult­hood, so that most who are obese as chil­dren will be obese into adult­hood. That’s why the group wants to see health-care pro­fes­sion­als trained to pre­vent and treat child­hood obe­sity. 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. It says that no sin­gle in­ter­ven­tion can halt the ad­vance of the obe­sity epi­demic, but their plan out­lines ways to en­cour­age coun­tries to re­duce con­sump­tion of cheap, pro­cessed, calo­rie-dense, nu­tri­ent-poor foods. It also of­fers ad­vice on re­duc­ing the time chil­dren spend on seden­tary ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­mot­ing more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity through recre­ation and sports. “Over­weight and obe­sity can­not be solved through in­di­vid­ual ac­tion alone,” say the au­thors of the ECHO Plan. “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.” Source: CTV News

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