A new study says the problem of childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate. Experts analyzed data from 2400 studies that tracked the height and weight of 32 million children 5 to 19 years old.
The research shows an estimated 74 million boys and 50 million girls are obese worldwide. Obesity rates are still rising in poorer nations but have leveled off in countries like the US and the UK.
The World Health Organization says the number of obese children and teens is now 10 times higher than it was 40 years ago due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise. The problem is more than just physical.
“Social psychological problems for the children themselves, more stigmatism, more bullying,” says Leanne Riley, World Health Organization
An on-line study in the Journal, “Lancet”, finds that obese children tend to be overweight as adults.
Riley says, “It is also more likely to lead to early onset of conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.”
Health experts are trying to educate parents, as well as schools and governments about the importance of balanced diets, proper food labeling, and the long-term impact of childhood obesity. Some countries, like the UK, Mexico, and South Africa have implemented or increased taxes on unhealthy foods and sugary drinks.
Philadelphia has a tax on sugary drinks.