Global child­hood obe­sity up ten­fold over past four decades

Iran Daily - - Health -

Lead­ing UK char­i­ties have called for the govern­ment to curb mar­ket­ing spend by junk food com­pa­nies af­ter a WHO re­port re­vealed a ten­fold in­crease in global child­hood obe­sity in the past 40 years.

The two-year study into child­hood BMI re­vealed the num­ber of obese boys had in­creased from six mil­lion to 74 mil­lion between 1975 and 2016, with the num­ber of girls in­creas­ing from five mil­lion to fifty mil­lion, re­ported.

The big­gest rise has been wit­nessed in the de­vel­op­ing world; in the US and Europe rates of obe­sity have re­mained steady, the re­port said.

How­ever, cam­paign­ers warned the NHS still spends £5.1 bil­lion a year on obe­si­tyre­lated con­di­tions.

Pub­lished on Wednesday in the Lancet Med­i­cal Jour­nal, the study calls for greater govern­ment ac­tion to limit high-calo­rie prod­ucts that ap­peal to chil­dren.

The study sug­gested a tax on sug­ary drinks, sim­i­lar to a UK tax that’s due to be­come law next year, as well as frontof-pack­age la­belling list­ing the prod­uct’s con­tents, and the ban­ning of un­healthy foods by schools.

Char­i­ties said that junk food brands spend £148 mil­lion ev­ery year mar­ket­ing their un­healthy prod­ucts in the UK.

Caro­line Cerny, from the Obe­sity Health Al­liance, said: “Junk food com­pa­nies are spend­ing tens of mil­lions of pounds a year on pro­mot­ing their prod­ucts. Govern­ment healthy eat­ing cam­paigns can’t pos­si­bly com­pete.”

WHO mem­ber Fiona Bull, one of the au­thors of the re­port, called for, ‘more ac­tion and more wide­spread ac­tion’.

“We are sur­rounded by en­vi­ron­ments which mar­ket un­healthy, high fat, high sugar, high calo­rie food,” she said.

“That’s what’s on the TV, that’s what’s pro­moted at bus stops, and that’s what chil­dren are see­ing all day, ev­ery day.”

The re­port, pub­lished as part of World Obe­sity Day, com­piled data from 31.5 mil­lion chil­dren around the globe.

Though obe­sity rates among Bri­ton had plateaued, Dr. James Ben­tham, a mem­ber of the in­ter­na­tional team from the Univer­sity of Kent, said that should not be ‘an ex­cuse for com­pla­cency’.

“More than one in five young peo­ple in the USA and one in 10 in the UK are obese,” he said.

Bri­tish girls have the sixth high­est obe­sity rate in Europe (73rd glob­ally), ac­cord­ing to the study, while boys were 18th in Europe (84th glob­ally). How­ever, Bri­tish obe­sity rates have tripled in the last four decades.

Dr. Harry Rut­ter from the Lon­don School of Hy­giene and Trop­i­cal Medicine said child­hood obe­sity is a ‘huge cri­sis’ in Bri­tain, par­tic­u­larly in poorer ar­eas.

Not­ing that obe­sity lev­els for af­flu­ent chil­dren had fallen over the past decade, while rates had risen for the poor­est, Rut­ter said: “We don’t only have in­equal­ity, we have widen­ing in­equal­ity, and we’re not get­ting any bet­ter at deal­ing with it.”

Tam Fry from the Na­tional Obe­sity Fo­rum said the grow­ing dis­par­ity between rich and poor un­der­cuts claims that Bri­tish obe­sity rates had lev­eled off.

“Don’t be fooled by a re­port which ini­tially would have you be­lieve that child obe­sity lev­els have plateaued in the UK,” he said.

“The cost of obe­sity to the coun­try should make Trea­sury and health min­is­ters’ hair stand on end and frighten them into ac­tion.

“What we have failed to do is to prop­erly ad­dress obe­sity which is a great dis­grace a great scan­dal.”

A govern­ment spokesman said: “Cur­rent ad­ver­tis­ing re­stric­tions in the UK on junk food are among the tough­est in the world, in­clud­ing a ban on ad­ver­tis­ing junk food in chil­dren’s me­dia.

“We are ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to tack­ling child­hood obe­sity and sup­port­ing peo­ple to make healthy choices.”

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