A new study, published in the Lancet Medical Journal, details the worrying rise in childhood obesity.
The research was collaboration between Imperial College, London and the World Health Organization, and collated data from 1975 to 2016 about children all over the world.
Information was collected on the Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 31 million children; BMI is a value calculated from the weight and height of individuals and is thought to give an indication of healthy body size. Obesity is defined as being a BMI of over 30kg/m2. Overweight individuals have a BMI of over 25 kg/m2.
The results make for sobering reading. The number of obese children and adolescents has increased 10 fold in the last 40 years. The increasing trend to obesity is seen more in boys aged 5-19 (from 6 million in 1975 to 74 million in 2016) than in girls (5 million in 1975 compared to 50 million in 2016).
Geographically, the highest percentage of obese children is seen in the Polynesian islands of the Pacific; here, obesity rates are above 30%. In wealthier countries, the Unites States tops the list with an average childhood obesity prevalence of 1 in 5 (20%).
In Europe the obesity rates are between 7 and 10 percent.
The study also looked at rates of adult obesity, which were 100 million in 1975 and had risen by 2016 to 671 billion. The number of overweight adults in 2016 was 1.3 billion.
Whilst the numbers of overweight and obese adults is alarming, the focus of the study was on the soaring rates of weight gain in the young. Concern has centered on the long term health implications. Obesity is strongly linked to increased levels of chronic diseases (such as type 2 diabetes) and cancer. The accelerating levels of obesity and the potential link to chronic ill health at an earlier age have massive implications for individuals, their family and the health economics of the region and country in which they reside.
From a chiropractic viewpoint, obesity contributes significantly to musculoskeletal problems, especially on load bearing joints, such as the lower back and knees.
The worldwide levels of obesity are soon likely to overtake those of underweight individuals.
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