Using data prepared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the report laid bare the grim realities faced if obesity levels continued at its current pace across the world.
Here, the researchers estimated the numbers of children in 2025 suffering from obesity-related comorbidities. These included impaired glucose tolerance (12 million), type 2 diabetes (4 million), hypertension (27 million) and hepatic steatosis (38 million).
The team, from the UK’s World Obesity Federation, acknowledged that in some countries a slowdown in obesity and overweight rates may be observed.
However, for others the levels have continued on an uphill trajectory with much evidence that suggested this would continue.
Of particular importance was the addition of countries experiencing comparable patterns of nutritional transition and improved access to markets for processed foods and sugary beverages.
This, said the researchers, was increasing sedentary behaviours and continued rising levels of urbanisation.
The report also used figures compiled by the Global Burden of Disease collaboration, which had previously been published in the Lancet journal in 2014.
This study provided data for 17 separate age groups (two years through to 80+ years) for men and women for the years 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2013.
Predictions for 2025
Estimates, determined by the same study for the years 2000 and 2013 were then inserted into the year 2010 and predicted for the year 2025 for each of 184 countries.
The results revealed global overweight cases that involved children aged 5–17 years increasing from 13.9% in 2010 to a predicted 15.8% in 2025.
The report translated this rise from around 219 million children in this age group in 2010 to 268 million children by 2025. Obesity alone was expected to rise from 76 million children (4.8%) in 2010 to 91 million (5.4%) by 2025.
In addition, countries such as the USA and the UK, which already had a high prevalence of overweight in children were highlighted as were countries that had large populations and associated increases in overweight, predicted to continue to 2025 (China, India, Brazil and Mexico).
'Optimism is not a realistic approach'
“We have made a number of estimates for the scale of child overweight and obesity in 2025, the year that the WHO set for achieving no increase in obesity levels from 2010 for pre-school children, adolescents and adults,” the study explained.
“For most countries analysed, there appears to be no reason to believe the targets will be met,” it continued.
The report’s researchers concluded that it saw no reason to depend on optimism as a realistic approach for future planning or for coping with the child obesity challenge and its comorbidities.
They warned that increasing levels of ill-health would manifest as those children retained or increased their weight as they entered adulthood.
Source: Paediatric Obesity
Published online ahead of print, DOI: 10.1111/ijpo.12185
“Planning for the worst: estimates of obesity and comorbidities in school-age children in 2025.”
Authors: T. Lobstein, R. Jackson-Leach