Ten-fold increase in obese children, teens compared to 40 years ago

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TUESDAY, Oct. 10, 2017 (HealthDay News) - Childhood obesity has increased more than 10-fold worldwide since 1975, a new study reports. The study found that 75 million girls and 117 million boys were moderately or severely underweight. Overall, 9.9 per cent of Canadian girls are obese, as are 14.7 per cent of boys.

"While there have been some initiatives led by governments, communities or or schools to increase awareness about childhood and adolescent obesity, most high income countries have been reluctant to use taxes and industry regulations to change eating and drinking behaviours to tackle child obesity", said Professor Majid Ezzati, study author from Imperial College London. And while obesity rates have mostly plateaued in higher income countries, they remain "unacceptably" high.

The analysis, led by Imperial College London in collaboration with the World Health Organization, involves data on almost 129 million children ages 5 to 19 in 200 countries. So we can't wait to deal with underweight, and then worry about overweight and obesity. The red and orange on the Polynesia and Micronesia chart represent children who are overweight or obese; green indicates those who are at a healthy weight. Cut-offs are lower among children and adolescents and vary based on age.

Obesity and smoking are the two main drivers behind the soaring numbers of cancers, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes worldwide, grouped together officially as non-communicable diseases, the World Obesity Federation (WOF) said in its estimates.

The study, led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation (WHO), is published to mark World Obesity Day.

Type 2 diabetes is typically an adult-onset condition, he told CNN. In adults, being underweight is defined as a BMI under 18.5. The European prevalence of childhood obesity continues to rise except in a few countries where it is levelling off (Denmark, France, Sweden, Switzerland).

For example, in India and Pakistan, 50.1% and nearly 41.6% of girls, respectively, were underweight in 2016 - down from 59.9% and 54% in 1975.

"We mustn't forget that undernutrition remains a major global public health problem", commented Dr.

Over the past four decades, many countries underwent a "nutrition transition" as their economies grew, explained Hu. China and India have seen rates "balloon" in recent years.

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"While it's happening also in the high-income world, especially in Europe and certainly in Japan and some of its neighbors like South Korea, it has been a slower process", Ezzati said. "But, our data also show that the transition from underweight to overweight and obesity can happen quickly in an unhealthy nutritional transition, with an increase in nutrient-poor, energy-dense foods".

"We've been very clear in terms of what we need to be doing".

It is the largest ever study of its kind.

Experts from the WOF say spending more on treating and preventing obesity will save countries many millions in the long term. "Parents only respond to the environment being created". "By releasing (the data), we hope to generate more political action from countries".

"Highly processed food is more available, more marketed and it's cheaper", she said.

"It's our hope that countries will see how big the problem is (in their population), know the solution and be able to take some steps", said Waqanivalu.

British girls have the 73rd-highest obesity rate in the world and boys the 84th, down from 27th and 39th respectively in 1975.

"Dietary patterns are changing rapidly and accelerating obesity. and will lead to chronic disease down the road", said Hu.

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