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.
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. It added that almost two thirds of the world’s children and adolescents, who are moderately or severely underweight, live in South Asia.
The study, led by the Imperial College London (UK) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), was published ahead of World Obesity Day (October 11) in the Lancet. It brought together data from 2,416 studies, involving 128.9 million participants worldwide, which included 31.5 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 years, to estimate trends in the body mass index (BMI) in 200 countries.
Excessive weight gain in childhood and adolescence is associated with a higher risk and early onset of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, worse psychosocial and educational outcomes, and lifelong harms since weight loss is hard to achieve. Meanwhile, obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, depression and many types of cancer will cost India an estimated $12.7 billion annually by 2025.
The World Obesity Federation, along with the Lancet and the World Health Organisation, published the new data, revealing the continual increase in childhood obesity and the financial consequences of untreated obesity at all ages.
Untreated, obesity is responsible for a significant proportion of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and several types of cancer. The global annual medical cost of treating these serious consequences of obesity is expected to reach $1.2 trillion per year by 2025, found the study.
In India, the annual cost of treating these consequences is estimated to reach $13 billion or cumulative costs of $90 billion between now and 2025.
President of the World Obesity Federation, Professor Ian Caterson, in a release issued on Tuesday, said that obesity is now a worldwide epidemic, which absorbs a vast amount of our healthcare resources. The annual medical cost of treating the consequences of obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease, is truly alarming.
Meanwhile, in Pune, Dr Kedar Patil at Bharti Hospital in Dhanakwadi said the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) provides financial assistance to local residents and its staff for bariatric surgery.
Pune Municipal Assistant Health Officer Anjali Sabane said the number of people living obesity has increased at an alarming rate, which is why the civic body has included such surgeries in the different health schemes it offers its employees.