This new study is very concerning. The number of obese kids worldwide has soared dramatically from 11 million in 1975, to 124 million in 2016.
Many countries in the Pacific Islands topped the list with over 30% of kids estimated to be obese. The United States was not far behind with rates at 20% or over for the 5 to 19 age bracket.
If this trend continues, we’ll see more obese kids than underweight children by the year 2022.
Globally, people now have access to ultra-processed, calorie-dense foods that are cheap and nutrient-poor. Just like here, many cultures are surrounded by unhealthy food options. And for those with limited incomes, they simply can’t afford to buy nutritious foods.
When it comes to high-income countries, America has the highest child obesity rates. There are many things caregivers can do to help prevent childhood obesity – so here are my prescriptions:
1. Encourage nutritious eating habits. Discuss how the body thrives on fruits, veggies, whole-grains, lean meats, fish and beans.
2. Keep tempting foods out of your home. Eating small treats in moderation is fine but limit high-fat high-sugary snacks.
3. Talk to your kids about physical exercise and why they need 60 minutes a day. Explain how it can increase their self-esteem, strengthen their bones, decrease anxiety and help maintain a healthy weight.
4. Reduce screen time. Kids sit around too much watching TV or playing games on electronic devices. Encourage them to find other fun things to do that involve movement.
Children who are obese face many obstacles. They can be picked on or teased at school. They often have low self-esteem and may face social isolation and depression. They have higher risks for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, asthma and type 2 diabetes. One study found 60% of kids aged 5 to 17 had at least one risk factor for heart disease.