A new report by Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), reveals that obesity in children is 10 times higher today than it was in 1975.
Even more startling is the report’s prediction that within five years, more children will be obese than underweight.
For the research, lead author Prof. Majid Ezzati, of the School of Public Health at ICL, and his team of over 1,000 researchers examined the body mass index (BMI) of almost 130 million people living in 200 countries, including 31.5 million individuals between 5 and 19 years old – making this study the largest of its kind.
They found that total childhood obesity rates have risen globally by more than 10-fold in the past forty years.
More specifically, in 1975, there were 5 million obese girls. In 2016, this number had risen to 50 million. A similar trend was found for boys, with 6 million obese in 1975 compared to 74 million in 2016.
The researchers say that if the trend continues, there will be more obese children in the world than underweight ones by the end of 2020.
Commenting on the findings, Prof. Ezzati said: “The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and also malnourished. We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods.”
The findings of the study were published in The Lancet.