More children with obesity: Many lifelong health impairments
In the past 40 years, the number of extremely overweight children and adolescents has increased more than tenfold. In 1975, 5 million girls were still obese, compared to 50 million in 2016. An increase from 6 to 74 million was observed among the boys, according to a study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Imperial College London. The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) was also involved in the investigations.
The scientists had evaluated the body measurements of almost 130 million people in 200 countries, of whom 32 million were 5 to 19 years old. They determined the body mass index (BMI) and compared the values from 1975 to 2016. The BMI is a common measure for estimating body weight and indicates the ratio of weight (in kg) to body size (in m to square). In children and adolescents, the normal body fat percentage changes constantly, depending on age and gender. Using standard value curves, you can see how the weight is to be classified.
In 1975, a total of 11 million children and adolescents (1%) were severely overweight. In 2016, 124 million people were identified (7%). Another 213 million were overweight without reaching the obesity limits. In countries with low or medium incomes, especially in Asia, this development is progressing. In countries with a higher average income, the values seem to level off at a much too high level, the doctors explain in the specialist journal "The Lancet". In Europe, too, children and adolescents have become fatter over the past decades.
Anyone who weighs too many pounds at a young age is usually a heavyweight even in adulthood. It is therefore particularly important to support young people on their way to healthy body weight and a better quality of life. »An extremely high BMI in childhood often leads to lifelong health problems. As a result, the high rate of obesity and obesity is a global health threat today, which will continue to worsen in the years to come if we do not take drastic measures against it, «sums up Dr. Rudolf Kaaks, co-author of the study from the DKFZ.
Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de