Alarming Increase In Childhood Obesity In The Arab World

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), two billion people are overweight worldwide right now.

Last week, the Imperial College of London and the WHO have released a study that exuded how childhood and adolescent obesity are have dramatically increased. With almost 130 million participants between the ages of 5 and 19, the largest number of children who were obese appeared in the Middle East, East Asia, North Africa and countries with high-income English-speaking populations.

Dr Fiona Bull, a programme coordinator for surveillance and population-based prevention of non-communicable diseases at the WHO, stated that the data highlights, reinforces and reminds the world that obesity is a global health issue today. An issue that is threatening to worsen in the upcoming years unless strict measure actions are taking immediately.

Professor Majid Ezzati, the lead author of the study, stated that obesity rates have soared globally in both children and adolescents over the past 40 years.

This epidemic is primarily caused by the impact of food marketing and the policies it carries across the world, alongside the costliness of foods that are healthy and nutritious in poor communities. If those numbers keep increasing then by 2022 more children and adolescents in the world will be obese rather than slightly under or overweight.

Image credit: thelancet

Comparing the numbers of kids that are obese between the ages of 5 to 19 in 2016 to the ones in 1975, the WHO confirms that obesity rates have increased by over tenfold worldwide. The figures show that the rates went from under 1% obese kids in 1975 for both boys and girls to 8% for boys and 6% for girls in the recent year of 2016. This means that a global shift of 11 million to 124 million obese kids occurred in less than 41 years.

Tuqa Waleed, Jordanian kid (10 years old) at 140 kg (on the right).
Image credit: alarabiya

To reduce obesity in countries, Dr Bull explained that countries should aim to cut down and reduce consumption of ultra-processed, cheap, nutrient-poor and calorie-dense foods.





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