New Research Calls for New Campaigns Against Obesity

By Faith Magbanua, October 11, 2017 19:10 PM


Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing rates in adults and children. However, just this year, the numbers of obese youth seems to be reaching to its highest peak-yet.

The number of obese children and adolescents worldwide has jumped tenfold in the past 40 years and the rise is accelerating in low- and middle-income countries, especially in Asia according to a recent study posted on Tuesday.

According from a study from a research done by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration group, "From 1975 to 2016, children's and adolescents' age-standardized mean BMI increased globally and in most regions. The global increase was 0·32 kg/m2 per decade (95% CrI 0·23-0·41, PP of the observed increase being a true increase>0·9999) for girls and 0·40 kg/m2 per decade (0·30-0·50, PP>0·9999) for boys, leading to virtually identical age-standardized mean BMIs of 18·6 kg/m2 (18·4-18·7) for girls and 18·5 kg/m2 (18·3-18·7) for boys in 2016. The corresponding figures for adults were 24·8 kg/m2 (24·6-25·0) in women and 24·5 kg/m2 (24·3-24·6) in men."

The child and teenage obesity levels have risen ten-fold in the last four decades, meaning 124m boys and girls around the globe are too fat, according to new research.

The analysis in the Lancet is the largest of its kind and looks at obesity trends in over 200 countries.

For example, in the UK, one in every 10 young people aged five to 19 is obese.

Obese children are likely to become obese adults, putting them at risk of serious health problems, according to experts.


Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health.

People are generally considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person's weight by the square of the person's height, is over 30 kg/m2, with the range 25-30 kg/m2 defined as overweight. Some East Asian countries use lower values.

Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases and conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis and depression.

Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility.

A few cases are caused primarily by genes, endocrine disorders, medications, or mental disorder. The view that obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is not generally supported.

On average, obese people have a greater energy expenditure than their normal counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

Obesity is mostly preventable through a combination of social changes and personal choices. Changes to diet and exercising are the main treatments. Diet quality can be improved by reducing the consumption of energy-dense foods, such as those high in fat and sugars, and by increasing the intake of dietary fiber.

Medications may be used, along with a suitable diet, to reduce appetite or decrease fat absorption. If diet, exercise, and medication are not effective, a gastric balloon or surgery may be performed to reduce stomach volume or length of the intestines, leading to feeling full earlier or a reduced ability to absorb nutrients from food.

The Lancet analysis, released on World Obesity Day, comes as researchers from the World Obesity Federation warn that the global cost of treating ill health caused by obesity will exceed £920bn every year from 2025.

Obese the new 'norm'

Although child obesity rates appear to be stabilizing in many high-income European countries, including the UK, they are accelerating at an alarming rate in many other parts of the world, lead researcher Prof Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London says.

The largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents has been in East Asia. China and India have seen rates "balloon" in recent years.

Polynesia and Micronesia have the highest rate of all - around half of the young population in these countries is overweight or obese.

The researchers say that if current world trends continue, 'obese' will soon be more common than 'underweight'.

The number of underweight girls and boys worldwide has been decreasing since the peak number was reached in the year 2000.

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

East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have seen a shift from underweight to obesity within the space of a few decades.

Globally, in 2016 an additional 213 million young people were overweight although still below the threshold for obesity.

According to co-researcher Dr. Harry Rutter from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the numbers are "a huge problem that will get worse. Even skinny people are heavier than they would have been ten years ago. We have not become more weak-willed, lazy or greedy. The reality is the world around us is changing."

Dr. Fiona Bull from the World Health Organization called for tough action to crack down on "calorie-dense, nutrient-poor food" and promote more physical activity.

So far, just over 20 countries around the world have introduced a tax on sugary drinks.

Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "Our sugar reduction programs and the government's sugar levy are world-leading, but this is just the beginning of a long journey to tackle the challenge of a generation.

"The evidence is clear, that just telling people what to do won't work. Whilst education and information are important, deeper actions are needed to help us lower calorie consumption and achieve healthier diets."

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