World will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight by 2022

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The number of obese children and adolescents (aged 5 to 19 years) worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades, according to a new study led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO). If current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022. The study is published in The Lancet. It analyzed weight and height measurements from nearly 130 million people aged over five (31.5 million people aged 5 to 19, and 97.4 million aged 20 and older), the largest number of participants ever involved in an epidemiological study. More than 1000 researchers contributed to the study, which looked at body mass index (BMI) and how obesity has changed worldwide from 1975 to 2016.

During this period, obesity rates in the world’s children and adolescents increased from less than 1% (equivalent to five million girls and six million boys) in 1975 to nearly 6% in girls (50 million) and nearly 8% in boys (74 million) in 2016. Combined, the number of obese 5 to 19-year-olds rose more than tenfold globally, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016. An additional 213 million were overweight in 2016 but fell below the threshold for obesity. Lead author Professor Majid Ezzati, of Imperial’s School of Public Health, said: “Over the past four decades, obesity rates in children and adolescents have soared globally, and continue to do so in low-and-middle-income countries. More recently, they have plateaued in higher income countries, although obesity levels remain unacceptably high.”

Professor Ezzati adds: “These worrying trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe, with healthy nutritious foods too expensive for poor families and communities. The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and also malnourished. We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods.”

More obese than underweight 5 to 19-year-olds by 2022

The authors say that if post-2000 trends continue, global levels of child and adolescent obesity will surpass those for moderately and severely underweight for the same age group by 2022. Nevertheless, the large number of moderately or severely underweight children and adolescents in 2016 (75 million girls and 117 boys) still represents a major public health challenge, especially in the poorest parts of the world. This reflects the threat posed by malnutrition in all its forms, with there being underweight and overweight young people living in the same communities. Children and adolescents have rapidly transitioned from mostly underweight to mostly overweight in many middle-income countries, including in East Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The authors say this could reflect an increase in the consumption of energy-dense foods, especially highly processed carbohydrates, which lead to weight gain and poor lifelong health outcomes.

Dr. Fiona Bull, the programme coordinator for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) at WHO, said: “These data highlights, remind and reinforce that overweight and obesity is a global health crisis today, and threatens to worsen in coming years unless we start taking drastic action.”

Global data for obesity and underweight

In 2016, there were 50 million obese girls and 74 million obese boys in the world, while the global number of moderately or severely underweight girls and boys was 75 million and 117 million respectively. The number of obese adults increased from 100 million in 1975 (69 million women, 31 million men) to 671 million in 2016 (390 million women, 281 million men). Another 1.3 billion adults were overweight but fell below the threshold for obesity.

Regional/Country data for obesity, BMI and underweight

Obesity:

The rise in childhood and adolescent obesity in low- and middle-income countries, especially in Asia, has accelerated since 1975. Conversely, the rise in high-income countries has slowed and plateaued. The largest increase in the number of obese children and adolescents was seen in East Asia, the high-income English-speaking region (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK), and the Middle East and North Africa. In 2016, obesity rates were highest overall in Polynesia and Micronesia, at 25.4% in girls and 22.4% in boys, followed by the high-income English-speaking region. Nauru had the highest prevalence of obesity for girls (33.4%), and the Cook Islands had the highest for boys (33.3%).

In Europe, girls in Malta and boys in Greece had the highest obesity rates, at 11.3% and 16.7% of the population respectively. Girls and boys in Moldova had the lowest obesity rates, at 3.2% and 5% of the population respectively. Girls in the UK had the 73rd highest obesity rate in the world (6th in Europe), and boys in the UK had the 84th highest obesity in the world (18th in Europe). Girls in the USA had the 15th highest obesity rate in the world, and boys had the 12th highest obesity in the world. Among high-income countries, the USA had the highest obesity rates for girls and boys.

BMI:

The largest rise in BMI of children and adolescents since 1975 was in Polynesia and Micronesia for both sexes, and in central Latin America for girls. The smallest rise in the BMI of children and adolescents during the four decades covered by the study was seen in Eastern Europe. The country with the biggest rise in BMI for girls was Samoa, which rose by 5.6 kg/m2, and for boys was the Cook Islands, which rose by 4.4 kg/m2.

Underweight:

India had the highest prevalence of moderately and severely underweight (BMI <19) throughout these four decades (24.4% of girls and 39.3% of boys were moderately or severely underweight in 1975, and 22.7% and 30.7% in 2016). 97 million of the world’s moderately or severely underweight children and adolescents lived in India in 2016.

Solutions exist to reduce child and adolescent obesity

In conjunction with the release of the new obesity estimates, WHO is publishing a summary of the Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) Implementation Plan. The plan gives countries clear guidance on effective actions to curb childhood and adolescent obesity. WHO has also released guidelines calling on frontline healthcare workers to actively identify and manage children who are overweight or obese. Dr. Bull added: “WHO encourages countries to implement efforts to address the environments that today are increasing our children’s chance of obesity. Countries should aim particularly to reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods. They should also reduce the time children spend on screen-based and sedentary leisure activities by promoting greater participation in physical activity through active recreation and sports.”

Dr. Sophie Hawkesworth, from the Population Health team at Wellcome Trust, which co-funded the study, said: “Global population studies on this scale are hugely important in understanding and addressing modern health challenges. This study harnessed the power of big data to highlight worrying trends of both continuing high numbers of underweight children and teenagers and a concurrent stark rise in childhood obesity. Together with global health partners and the international research community, Wellcome is working to help identify new research opportunities that could help better understand all aspects of malnutrition and the long-term health consequences.”

My thoughts: The unfortunate and sad reality is that I was not surprised when I read the research.¬†ūüėĒ¬†However, this is just more proof that we have to work together as a world, not a country, to fight this epidemic…..and not only obesity but eating disorders as a whole. We can win!

Adapted from: NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC). Worldwide trends in body-mass index, underweight, overweight, and obesity from 1975 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 2416 population-based measurement studies in 128*9 million children, adolescents, and adults. The Lancet, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/ S0140-6736(17)32129-3

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Schedule time each week to plan healthy meals! Keep your recipes, grocery list, and coupons in the same place to make planning and budgeting easier.

 

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Too much sugar? Even ‘healthy people’ are at risk of developing heart disease

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Healthy people who consume high levels of sugar are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A ground-breaking study from the University of Surrey found that a subject group of otherwise healthy men had increased levels of fat in their blood and fat stored in their livers after they had consumed a high sugar diet. The study, which has been published in Clinical Science, looked at two groups of men with either high or low levels of liver fat, and fed them a high or low sugar diet to find out if the amount of liver fat influences the impact of sugar on their cardiovascular health. The low sugar diet contained no more than 140 calories a day worth of sugar, an amount close to the recommended intake, while the high sugar diet contained 650 calories worth.

After 12 weeks on the high sugar diet, the men with a high level of liver fat, a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), showed changes in their fat metabolism that are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. Fat metabolism is the biochemical process by which fats are transported and broken down in the blood, and used by the cells of the body. The results also revealed that when the group of healthy men with a low level of liver fat consumed a high amount of sugar, their liver fat increased and their fat metabolism became similar to that of the men with NAFLD.

Professor of Nutritional Metabolism, Bruce Griffin, said: “Our findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter your fat metabolism in ways that could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.¬†“While most adults don’t consume the high levels of sugar we used in this study, some children and teenagers may reach these levels of sugar intake by over-consuming fizzy drinks and sweets. This raises concern for the future health of the younger population, especially in view of the alarmingly high prevalence of NAFLD in children and teenagers, and exponential rise of fatal liver disease in adults.”

Adapted from: A. Margot Umpleby, Fariba Shojaee-Moradie, Barbara Fielding, Xuefei Li, Andrea Marino, Najlaa Alsini, Cheryl Isherwood, Nicola Jackson, Aryati Ahmad, Michael Stolinski, Julie Anne Lovegrove, Sigurd Johnsen, Jeewaka Mendis, John Wright, Malgorzata E Wilinska, Roman Hovorka, Jimmy Bell, Louise E Thomas, Gary Frost, Bruce Arthur Griffin. Impact of liver fat on the differential partitioning of hepatic triacylglycerol into VLDL subclasses on high and low sugar diets. Clinical Science, 2017; CS20171208 DOI: 10.1042/CS20171208

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Use fresh or dried herbs and spices or a salt-free seasoning blend in place of salt when cooking. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to add flavor to cooked foods.

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There are plenty of reasons to exercise and plenty of reasons to limit sugar, but the truth is, neither would be enough to stem the obesity epidemic. Studies show that exercise, despite all its benefits, cannot compensate for poor eating habits when it comes to weight loss. For the most part, too much sugar and too little exercise sugarcoat the real issue at hand: We’re eating meat and dairy products in quantities that our grandparents never imagined. Obesity was all but unheard of a century ago in the United States. By 1970, about 11 percent of the population qualified as obese. Today, that number stands at 36 percent. So what happened?

Since 1970, our overall energy intake has risen by about 500 calories per day. Where are most of these extra calories coming from? The bulk is from meat, eggs, dairy products, and added fats, which account for an extra 287 calories every day. That adds up to about four extra pounds per year. Let’s rewind another 60 years. Compared to 1909, we now consume 60 more pounds of meat per person each year. Cheese consumption has soared from just four pounds per person in 1909 to more than 30 pounds today, making it a leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets.

Eating 100 more pounds of meat and cheese ‚Äď along with saturated fat and cholesterol ‚Äď every year has, not surprisingly, only made us gain weight and get sick.¬†Decades of science confirm that our waistlines would benefit from simply moving the animal products off our plates. According to 15 major research studies,¬†vegetarian diets consistently lead to weight loss, even without calorie restriction or exercise and long-term observational studies show that vegetarian‚ÄĒespecially vegan‚ÄĒpopulations are the trimmest and healthiest on the planet.

It’s time to stop the sweet talk: Meat and dairy are the real drivers of the obesity epidemic, and setting them aside will help solve it.

Tip of the Day

Enjoy foods from many cultures. Combinations of herbs and spices often remind us of dishes from our own heritage or our favorite ethnic food. Add flavor to meals with herbs and spices, such as chili, garlic, ginger, basil, oregano, curry, cilantro or turmeric.

Daily Inspiration 

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Heart Disease Detected in Obese Children

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Obese children may show signs of heart disease as young as 8 years old, according to an abstract presented in November 2015 at the American Heart Association‚Äôs Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Fla. Researchers used cardiac imaging technology to compare the hearts of 20 obese children with 20 nonobese children, and found that the obese children had 12 percent thicker heart muscles, a sign of heart disease. Forty percent of the obese children were classified as ‚Äúhigh risk‚ÄĚ because of the heart muscle thickening.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics (2015) found that vegan diets reduce the risk of heart disease in obese children.

Jing L, Friday CM, Suever JD, et al. Obese children with concentric hypertrophy and impaired cardiac strain: a potentially high-risk subgroup identified with cardiac magnetic resonance. Abstract presented at: American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015; November 7-11, 2015: Orlando, Fla.

Macknin M, Kong T, Weier A, et al. Plant-based, no-added-fat or American Heart Association diets: impact on cardiovascular risk in obese children with hypercholesterolemia and their parents. J Pediatr. 166:953-9.e1-3.

Tip of the Day

Let’s Talk Trash!¬†There is a growing concern about food loss and food waste in the United States. Make a plan to use all the food you purchase at the grocery store. If you don‚Äôt think you will be able to eat something, check to see if it can be frozen safely.

Daily Inspiration

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How Sleep Habits Effect A Childs Healthy Weight

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If you think your child gets enough sleep, think again. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most children sleep less than their parents realize. And nearly 70 percent of children have some sleep problem such as waking during the night, sleeping too little or having difficulty falling asleep at least a few nights each week.

Sacrificing Sleep

Emerging research suggests that sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise are to your child’s health and we’re talking about more than colds and the flu. Scientists aren’t sure why, but too little sleep is linked with both packing on extra pounds and developing Type 2 diabetes, explains Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and director of coaching at Cleveland Clinic. Researchers have observed this weight effect in kids of all ages-even infants, toddlers and preschoolers. One theory for weight gain is that inadequate sleep disrupts hormone levels that regulate appetite and food intake. Thus, too little sleep means bigger portions of foods and more snacking, Jamieson-Petonic explains.

When kids are overextended in activities, weighted down with homework, constantly texting or plugged into the Internet and other technology, something has to give. Unfortunately, it’s frequently an hour or two of shut-eye that gets knocked from the priority list. Sleepy kids lack the energy and focus for playing outside and doing schoolwork. They’re more likely to sit in front of the TV where they burn few calories and challenge neither their minds nor their bodies, says registered dietitian Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Set a Routine

The good news is that you can help them sleep better and longer. If they’re involved in too many activities, set priorities for young children and help your older children set their own. Limit afterschool clubs and sports to a manageable number. Finally, create a bedtime routine such as dinner, bath, massage and a story, urges Jamieson-Petonic. Routines help kids and adults ease into a night’s slumber. Bedtime routines should always include at least a few minutes of downtime such as reading a book or telling a story to small children. Older kids may enjoy reading to themselves or to you. Teens might like a few minutes chatting with parents or journaling about their day. As hard as it might be, keep the phone and texting out of bed; and avoid exercise, television and the Internet shortly before bedtime. Find the schedule that works for you and your children, and do your best to stick to it every night, urges Tanner-Blasiar.

This advice can ALSO be applied to us adults!

Adapted from Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND

Tip of the Day

Look locally! Buying from your local farmer allows you to support your community. Purchase farm-fresh foods such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, honey, meat, or beans from a farmers market near you.

Daily Inspiration 

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Midlife Obesity Increases Alzheimer‚Äôs Disease Risk

Obesity increases Alzheimer’s disease risk, according to a study in Molecular Psychiatry. Researchers studied 1,394 participants of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and tracked their weight at age 50 and evidence of Alzheimer’s later on. The results indicate that with an increase in weight, onset of Alzheimer’s disease occurred 6.7 months earlier than when compared to those who were not obese. Autopsies and scans also showed higher body weights resulted in more Alzheimer’s-specific deposits in the brain. This study suggests that lifestyle changes earlier in life can influence the course of disease.

Chuang YF, An Y, Bilgel M, et al. Midlife adiposity predicts earlier onset of Alzheimer’s dementia, neuropathology and presymptomatic cerebral amyloid accumulation. Mol Psychiatry. Published online September 1, 2015.

Tip of the Day

Make it easy. Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up baby carrots, cabbage slaw mix and grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes. Veggies such as snow peas or celery sticks make quick snacks.

Daily Inspiration

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Parent and Teen Weight Relate to Feeding Practices

A new study helps identify which parents of teens are most likely to use feeding practices that have been linked with unhealthy outcomes, researchers say. Parents most often pressure their teen to eat when neither they nor the teen are overweight, while when parents and teens are both overweight, parents most often use food restriction, the researchers found. Previous research has shown that when parents use restriction and pressure-to-eat feeding practices, children and adolescents are at higher risk for being overweight and having eating disorders, said lead author Jerica M. Berge of the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, in email to Reuters Health. She and her colleagues analyzed data from two studies involving more than 3,000 parents and more than 2,000 teens. Teens had their height and weight measured by trained professionals at school, and parents filled out a questionnaire at home, self reporting their own heights and weights.

Parents also reported how often they encouraged their child to eat more at mealtimes and how often they restricted sweets, high-fat foods or their teen’s favorite foods. In about 1,200 cases, parents were overweight or obese but their teen was not. In almost 900 cases, both parent and child were overweight. In almost 700 cases, the parent and child were both not overweight, and in only about 300 cases the parent was not overweight but the teen was. Pressuring kids to eat was more common when both parties were not overweight, compared to pairs who were overweight or had differing statuses. Similarly, food restriction was most common for pairs that were both overweight or obese, compared to those who were both not overweight or who differed between parent and child, the authors reported in Pediatrics.

Clare Collins, professor in nutrition and dietetics at The University of Newcastle in Callaghan, Australia who wasn‚Äôt involved in the new study, noted in email to Reuters Health that the surveys were taken only at one time point so it is unclear from the results if parent feeding practices go on to influence future eating and weight status in the adolescents.¬†‚ÄúThe problem with restricting food from a child or pressuring a child to eat more is that prior research has shown that it may have unintended consequences such as, a child becoming overweight or obese, or engaging in disordered eating behaviors such as, binging or purging,‚ÄĚ Berge said.¬†‚ÄúRather than restricting or pressuring your child to eat, it is more helpful for parents to make sure that there are a variety of healthy food options in the home, or on the table, for children to eat and then allow the child to decide how much they eat,‚ÄĚ she said.¬†Having unhealthy food in the fridge and on the table and telling a teen they cannot eat it is not helpful and sets up food fights, Collins said.¬†But keeping unhealthy food out of the house in the first place does work and helps keep harmony in your house, she said.

Reprinted from Reuters (Kathryn Dole)

Tip of the Day

Can’t find something in your kitchen?¬†Add it to the list! Keeping a running list of items you need and bringing it to the store will minimize the number of products you buy and the size of your bill.

Daily Inspiration 

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