Childhood obesity 'has risen tenfold in past four decades'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A new report from Imperial College London and the World Health Organization has shed light on the sharp increase in childhood obesity seen across the world in recent years.

Published in The Lancet, the report analysed weight and height measurements from nearly 130 million people aged over five, making this the largest number of participants ever involved in an epidemiological study, with more than 1,000 researchers contributing.

“More children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022, according to new projections.“

Between 1975 and 2016, obesity rates in the world's children and adolescents rose from less than one percent to nearly six percent in girls, and close to eight percent in boys. Overall, the number of obese children and adolescents has risen tenfold.

The largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents was seen in East Asia, high-income English-speaking nations such as the UK, US, Canada and Australia, and the Middle East and North Africa.

If post-2000 trends continue, it is anticipated that global levels of child and adolescent obesity will surpass the number of moderately and severely underweight individuals in the same age group by 2022.

Lead author Professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London's School of Public Health, said: "We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods."

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