An analysis of the global trends in child and adolescent obesity has revealed a more than 10-fold increase in the number of children and adolescents living with obesity over the past four decades - increasing from 5 million girls and 6 million boys in 1975 to 50 million and 74 million in 2016, respectively.
There will be 2.7 billion overweight and obese adults by 2025, many of whom are likely to end up needing medical care which means a third of the global population will be overweight or obese. It added that nearly two thirds of the world's children and adolescents, who are moderately or severely underweight, live in South Asia.
The largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents has been in East Asia.
"The experience of east Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean show that the transition from underweight to overweight and obesity can be rapid", the study said.
The study found that 1.13million five to 19-year-olds were obese, up from 360,000 in 1975.
South Africa, Egypt and Mexico which had "very low levels of obesity four decades ago" now have among the high rates of obesity in girls, between 20-25%, Professor Ezzati said. And while obesity rates have mostly plateaued in higher income countries, they remain "unacceptably" high.
The study's lead author, Prof.
Dr. Nathalie Farpour-Lambert, the president-elect of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, said in a statement that obesity in childhood has a tendency to continue into adulthood, so that most who are obese as children will be obese into adulthood.
Prof Bull said the World Health Organization was talking to food manufacturers to find ways to reformulate products to reduce their sugar, fat and calories. "Even though we may see some signs of improvement, we can not be complacent, and we need to ramp up our actions much more significantly to act across the life-course and across all of society", said Harry Rutter, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
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The impending sugary drink tax had already led to the food companies making changes, she pointed out. "The reality is the world around us is changing".
He pointed out that while obesity prevalence among the most affluent United Kingdom children had fallen slightly in the last 10 years, it had steadily risen among the poorest.
"We have wide and widening inequalities".
New research published Tuesday finds that while the obesity rate among children in rich countries may have peaked, kids in developing countries are increasingly putting on unhealthy pounds.
Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum challenged the claim that childhood obesity had levelled off in the United Kingdom, pointing to the growing disparity between rich and poor.
"The cost of obesity to the country should make Treasury and health ministers' hair stand on end and frighten them into action".
"We have not become more weak-willed, lazy or greedy".
"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".
"Whilst education and information are important, deeper actions are needed to help us lower calorie consumption and achieve healthier diets".