Tenfold increase in childhood and adolescent obesity in four decades

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Tenfold increase in childhood and adolescent obesity in four decades

The world will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight by 2022, according to a new study by Imperial College London and WHO.

The number of obese children and adolescents (aged 5 to 19 years) worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades, according to a new study led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO). If current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022.

The study analysed weight and height measurements from nearly 130 million people aged over five (31.5 million people aged 5 to 19, and 97.4 million aged 20 and older), the largest number of participants ever involved in an epidemiological study. More than 1000 researchers contributed to the research, which looked at body mass index (BMI) and how obesity has changed worldwide from 1975 to 2016.

During this period, obesity rates in the world’s children and adolescents increased from less than 1% (equivalent to five million girls and six million boys) in 1975 to nearly 6% in girls (50 million) and nearly 8% in boys (74 million) in 2016. Combined, the number of obese 5 to 19 year olds rose more than tenfold globally, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016. An additional 213 million were overweight in 2016 but fell below the threshold for obesity.

Lead author Professor Majid Ezzati, of Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “Over the past four decades, obesity rates in children and adolescents have soared globally, and continue to do so in low- and middle-income countries. More recently, they have plateaued in higher income countries, although obesity levels there remain unacceptably high.”

The study was published in The Lancet ahead of World Obesity Day (11 October 2017).

(Source: Imperial College London, The Lancet)

Date Created: October 31, 2017

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