Global Warning: Childhood OBESITY has Multiplied by 10 in Four Decades

Global Warning: Childhood OBESITY has Multiplied by 10 in Four Decades

In 2016 there were 124 million young people between the ages of 5 and 19 years were obese, while in 1975 they were only 11 million.

The number of obese children and adolescents in the world has multiplied by 10 in the last four decades, according to the largest study on the subject and reveals that, if the trend does not change, in five years there will be more overweight youth than by under the proper weight.

The study has been carried out on the basis of data from 130 million people worldwide and has involved more than 1,000 specialists coordinated by the Imperial School of Public Health in London and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The goal was to determine the number of obese children and adolescents – more than five years and less than 19 – who had in 1975 and compare them with those who are overweight in 2016.

The result shows that if in 1975 there were five million obese girls and six million obese children – representing less than 1% of the population in that age group – 40 years later that percentage had grown to 5% in girls (50 million) and up to 8% in children (74 million).

Combined, in 2016 there were 124 million young people between the ages of five and 19 years obese, while in 1975 they were only eleven million.

In addition, the report highlights that in 2016 there were another 213 million overweight young people who could not be defined as obese.

The text indicates that, if the trend does not change, in 2022 there will be more obese and overweight children and adolescents than people underweight.

By 2016 there were 75 million girls and 117 million children weighing less than they should. The study makes clear that these data demonstrate the existence of a serious problem “and a public health challenge” that needs to be addressed.

“These data demonstrate the threat posed by malnutrition in all its forms, with underweight and overweight children living in the same communities,” the study said.

Global Warning, Childhood OBESITY

The causes of the Problem

Indeed, in a number of middle-income regions of the world, such as Latin America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, there has been a rapid transition from large, thinly weighted population groups that are currently overweight.

The authors explain this fact to the exponential increase in the consumption of carbohydrates and processed food, and bad habits, such as lack of exercise.

Another highlight is that the trend towards overweight is growing especially in developing countries, while it has stagnated in rich nations.


“These worrisome trends reflect the impact of food marketing on the world and the fact that healthy food is too expensive to be purchased by poor families,” he explained in a video conference from London Majid Ezzati, the main author of the text.

Asked about the reasons why it has stagnated in rich countries, he explained that surely because he had become aware before.

“In the early years of the 2000s they realized the upward trend in obesity rates and reacted by applying public policies that at least slowed down exponential growth,” he added.

“These data recall that overweight and obesity represent a public health crisis that will worsen unless drastic measures are taken,” Fiona Bull, WHO coordinator of noncommunicable diseases, told a news conference.

Some of these measures go through the clear reduction of the intake of saturated fats, salts and sugars, and of the radical increase in the physical activity.

“It is something that should change in the school, with the food that is offered in the dining rooms and in the food machines, but also at home.

We must cook healthy food, put healthy food in the lunch boxes of the school and also reduce the hours that children pass in front of screens and that they prevent them from doing physical activities, “Bull suggested.

The expert added that this awareness should start from the moment of gestation, with the mother feeding properly, and that should be kept in the nursing period.

“It is proven that children who have been breastfed exclusively during the first six months are less likely to be overweight,” he said.

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