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Childhood obesity rises worldwide
October 22, 2017, 4:47 pm

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that childhood obesity has increased more than 10-fold worldwide since 1975.

Researchers found that by 2016 overall obesity rates had jumped from less than 1 percent to almost 6 percent for girls and nearly 8 percent for boys — with rates at 20 percent or higher in the United States, Egypt and some Polynesian islands.

Rates of child and adolescent obesity have increased significantly over the past four decades in most countries in the world. A two-pronged strategy is needed to improve nutrition and reduce excessive weight gain, said the researchers.

The study showed that more than 1 in 5 young people in the US and 1 in 10 in the UK are obese, and that the rate of child and adolescent obesity is accelerating in East, South and Southeast Asia, as well as in other low- and middle-income regions.

Overall, 50 million girls and 74 million boys are now obese, which sets them up for serious health problems, the researchers said. Obesity rates were highest (above 30 percent) in some islands in Polynesia, including Nauru and the Cook Islands. Besides the United States and some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, obesity rates of about 20 percent or more were seen in the Caribbean (Bermuda and Puerto Rico).

The United States, however, had moved from sixth place to 15th over the four-decade study. Puerto Rico, meanwhile, had climbed up the scale, from 29th to 17th.

In addition to the 124 million children considered obese, 213 million youths ages 5 to 19 were overweight around the world in 2016, the researchers said.

"The trends show that without serious, concerted action to address obesity ... the health of millions of people will be needlessly placed in great jeopardy, leading to immense human and economic costs to communities," said the World Health Organization.

But despite the burgeoning obese population, being underweight remains a huge concern in many areas. The study found that 75 million girls and 117 million boys were moderately or severely underweight. Nearly two-thirds of these youngsters were in South Asia.

The findings highlight the ‘disconnect’ between the global dialogue on overweight and obesity and initiatives focusing on under-nutrition. The report warns that the transition from underweight to overweight and obesity can happen quickly with the influx of nutrient-poor, high-calorie foods in many developing nations.

Overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight in most countries

Worldwide obesity in 2016

Older than 18-years of age

Overweight - More than 1.9 billion adults (39% of adult population)

Obese - Of these over 650 million (13% of adult population).

Below 18-years of age

Over 380 million children were overweight or obese

More than 40 million overweight or obese children were under the age of 5


Obesity is preventable.



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