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12 October 2017, 12:46 | Rodolfo Wallace
Children weighing in half a stone heavier
In 2016, 124 million of young people aged 5 to 19 were considered obese, compared to only 11 million in 1975, evaluating study, conducted by Imperial College London and World Health Organization (WHO). Researchers analyzed data from 2,416 population-based studies that measured the height and weight of 31.5 million people between the ages of 5 and 19.
According to the most comprehensive study on childhood and adolescent obesity to date, published on World Obesity Day by the WHO and Imperial College in London, obesity rates in children and teenagers rose from 1 percent in 1975 to almost 6 percent in girls and 8 percent in boys worldwide. In South Asia, approximately 20 per cent of girls and 28 per cent of boys were either moderately or severely underweight, which makes them more vulnerable to infectious diseases, and in the case of teen girls, more likely to have pregnancy complications. Most importantly, very few policies and programmes attempt to make healthy foods such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables affordable to poor families.
"The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and at greater risk of diseases, like diabetes", he added.
The world will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight by 2022, according to a the study by Imperial College London and WHO.
Healthy nutritious foods are becoming too expensive for poor families and communities, he continued, urging for more availability at home and school of these kind of foods, especially in poor families and communities.
The authors say that if post-2000 trends continue, global levels of child and adolescent obesity will surpass those for moderately and severely underweight youth from the same age group by 2022.
It also recommends at least 60 minutes of exercise per day and less screen time and other sedentary activities. Currently, 75 million girls and 117 boys worldwide are underweight.
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Last year, the heaviest children and adolescents were in Nauru, the Cook Islands and Palau - tiny islands in Micronesia and the South Pacific Ocean.
The largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents was seen in East Asia, the high-income English-speaking region (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK), and the Middle East and North Africa.
Over the same period, the prevalence of obesity rose worldwide from under 1 percent for both girls and boys, to 5.6 percent for girls and 7.8 percent for boys.
Girls in the United Kingdom had the 73rd highest obesity rate in the world (6th in Europe), and boys in the United Kingdom had the 84th highest obesity in the world (18th in Europe). This is to identify the obesity trend form the year 1975 to 2016.
Girls in the U.S. had the 15th highest obesity rate in the world, and boys had the 12th highest obesity in the world.
The study emphasised that the high number of moderately or severely underweight children and teenagers in the world still represents a major public health challenge, particularly in the poorest regions of the world.
Obesity is one of the leading problems that the United States faces. The prevalence of moderate and severe underweight has somewhat decreased (from 9.2% to 8.4%), but food security is still a pressing issue in many parts of the world.
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