Obesity levels balloon in children
Many poor countries are now facing a “double epidemic” of malnutrition and obesity.
Childhood obesity has accelerated in many countries during the pandemic as children sit still at home for longer, often in front of a screen.
A global study published in 2017 in The Lancet projected that if the trends seen at the time continued, by 2022 obesity in children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years would surpass for the first time the share who were underweight.
That prediction now appears to have come true, reports The Economist.
Where obesity in children is most prevalent is somewhat surprising. More than a quarter of the world’s overweight children under the age of five live in Africa and 48 per cent are in Asia.
Children’s eating habits and levels of physical activity have changed for the worse during the pandemic. In Germany, for example, 28 per cent of three- to five-year-olds engaged in less physical activity and 20 per cent consumed more sugary snacks during the pandemic.
In rich countries, childhood obesity is concentrated in poor families.
In poor countries, however, it is a middle-class problem – so as average incomes rise, more children are moving into the overweight zone. Many poor countries are now facing a “double epidemic” of malnutrition and obesity.