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.
Childhood obesity is a complicated disease that’s on the rise globally and now affects over twice as many children as it did 30 years ago. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In an attempt to understand how the link between parents and obese children can be used to improve paediatric health, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied the responses given by 2,976 questionnaire respondents – 369 of which had children who were heavily overweight. During the study, the researchers uncovered that 31 percent of the parents interviewed were unable to classify their own child’s BMI scale range. This is worrying because it suggests that many parents simply do not acknowledge when their child is overweight and, therefore, are unlikely to do anything about it. The study’s senior author, Dr. Sanjay Kinra - reader in clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – said: "If parents are unable to accurately classify their own child's weight, they may not be willing or motivated to enact the changes to the child's environment that promote healthy weight maintenance.” Staggeringly, more than one third of American children are either overweight or obese and that’s a problem which will only worsen unless parents start taking measures now. Another of the study’s authors, Professor Russell Viner - an academic paediatrician at the UCL Institute of Child Health – said: "Measures that decrease the gap between parental perceptions of child weight status and obesity scales used by medical professionals may now be needed in order to help parents better understand the health risks associated with overweight and increase uptake of healthier lifestyles.” Photo credit: U.S. News