World Health Organization study sounds alarm over childhood obesity

World Health Organization study sounds alarm over childhood obesity

World Health Organization study sounds alarm over childhood obesity

Current rates of childhood obesity are highest among many Polynesian islands, the US, and many countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

By comparison, there were 117 million underweight boys and 75 million underweight girls last year after the number peaked around the year 2000, the study said.

There are now 10 times as many obese children and teens around the world than there were 40 years ago, and if current trends continue, there will soon be even more kids dangerously overweight than underweight, according to a new World Health Organization study.

"While average BMI among children and adolescents has recently plateaued in Europe and North America, this is not an excuse for complacency as more than 1 in 5 young people in the U.S.A. and 1 in 10 in the United Kingdom are obese", said Bentham, of the University of Kent in England.

Now, globally, 5.6 per cent of girls and 7.8 per cent of boys are classed as obese.

The study, published ahead of World Obesity Day, found that the rates of childhood obesity soared from less than 1 per cent in 1975, to almost 6 per cent in girls and almost 8 per cent in boys in 2016.

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In Australia, the average BMI for boys was 18.6 in 1975 and 18.3 for girls, while previous year it was 20.4 for boys and the same for girls, which is in the normal range, but the government's own statistics say that one in five Aussie kids are now overweight or obese.

Co-researcher Dr Harry Rutter, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "This is a huge problem that will get worse".

"The goal of those programs should be not just more calories but quality calories", Ezzati said. The investigators relied on information from more than 2,400 prior studies. 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 largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents has been in East Asia.

In 2016, 192m young people were underweight - still significantly more than the number of young people who were obese, but that looks set to change.

The WHO has published an Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) Implementation Plan, which it says gives countries clear guidance on effective actions to curb childhood obesity.

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Canada was ranked 44th for obesity among boys and 67th for girls.

Obesity rates have stabilised in high-income countries in recent years, though levels remain unacceptably high, Ezzati added.

While being overweight is associated with earlier onset of cardiac and metabolic issues and some cancers, being underweight also can carry serious consequences.

The prevalence of underweight children decreased from 9.2 percent to 8.4 percent of girls aged 5-19 over the study period, and from 14.8 percent to 12.4 percent in boys.

"We have not become more weak-willed, lazy or greedy". In many parts of Africa and India, 30 percent to 50 percent of boys were underweight.

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