World Health Organization study sounds alarm over childhood obesity

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Study author Majid Ezzati, a researcher at the college's School of Public Health, and his collaborators say it is the most comprehensive database ever assembled on this topic.

Indeed, it is common for children in Switzerland to walk to schoolexternal link, and there are support groups for kids who need to lose weight.

Obesity rates were highest (above 30 percent) in some islands in Polynesia, including Nauru and the Cook Islands.

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

Current rates of childhood obesity are highest among many Polynesian islands, the US, and many countries in the Middle East, including Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Katherine Morrison, a pediatric endocrinologist and associate professor at the department of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., said obese children and teens are "much more likely" to develop heart disease and other health problems like diabetes in middle age.

Obesity in adults is defined using a person's body mass index, the ratio between weight and height. In those countries, such as India and China, people on the higher socioeconomic end of the spectrum became obese, he said, while people on the spectrum's lower end were underweight - at first.

The authors call for governments to make healthy food more affordable.

Despite the increase in child and adolescent obesity, globally, more children remain moderately or severely underweight, with 75 million girls and 117 million boys remaining moderately or severely underweight in 2016, found the study.

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"We do see it on a day-to-day basis and it makes me worry to see where these kids are heading", she said.

The WHO has published an Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) Implementation Plan, which it says gives countries clear guidance on effective actions to curb childhood obesity.

"There is a continued need for policies that enhance food security in low-income countries and households, especially in South Asia", said Ezzati. Achievement of meaningful impacts on childhood obesity requires more than single interventions, such as taxing soda or traffic light food labelling.

"But, our data also show that the transition from underweight to overweight and obesity can happen quickly in an unhealthy nutritional transition, with an increase in nutrient-poor, energy-dense foods".

"England is at the forefront of addressing childhood obesity - our sugar reduction programme 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". "Parents only respond to the environment being created".

Much of the increase in recent years has taken place in developing countries while obesity rates among young people in Europe and the U.S. were said to have plateaued.

"Children are not getting physical activity in the school days, there is poor food opportunities in many schools, walking and cycling to school is going down in many countries, unsafe in many other countries, and parents are not being given the right, sufficient advice on nutrition", said Fiona Bull of WHO's department of non-communicable diseases.

"Dietary patterns are changing rapidly and accelerating obesity. and will lead to chronic disease down the road", said Hu.

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