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Across The Globe 1 in 10 School Children Are Overweight

Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The report, compiled by The International Obesity Task Force, estimates that at least 155 million, or 10 percent, of kids between the ages of 5 and 17 are too heavy, and almost 45 million of them are obese.

The findings were submitted to the World Health Organization on the eve of a critical vote by the world's health ministers next week on the adoption of a global strategy on diet, physical activity and health.

The strategy, which the U.N. health agency has been developing for two years, aims to head off a worldwide crisis in chronic diseases linked to bad eating habits and lack of exercise. A third of all deaths globally are from ailments linked to weight, lack of exercise and smoking. Worldwide, the number of fat people outstrips the number of hungry people.

The prevalence of overweight is dramatically higher in rich countries, but developing countries are quickly catching up and rates are rising almost everywhere.

In South Africa, 25 percent of teenage girls are too fat - similar to the average in the United States, which has one of the world's biggest obesity problems.

In Europe, childhood obesity has increased steadily, with the highest prevalence in southern European countries. About 15 percent of children in northern Europe are too fat, compared with about 30 percent in the south, the report estimates.

In Italy, a recent survey found that 36 percent of 9-year-olds were overweight or obese.

While in some developing countries childhood obesity was most dominant among the wealthy, it is also rising among the urban poor.

In the United States, overweight rose twice as fast during the 1990s in Hispanic and black pre-teenage children than in white children, the report found.

The International Obesity Task Force, a coalition of independent obesity scientists and research organizations, called on the World Health Organization to help countries develop national obesity action plans with a high priority set for tackling the prevention of childhood obesity.

"This report is the result of one of the most comprehensive collaborations between experts in the pediatric field, all seriously concerned about what is happening to children throughout the world," said one of the report's authors, Dr. Ricardo Uauy, chair of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "We really cannot afford to delay any longer."

Actions that could be taken include providing more opportunities for exercise and play, limiting television viewing and restricting junk food advertising and marketing to children, Uauy said.

Source: Diabetes In

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