Almost 50m overweight children: China to top the global chart by 2025

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Researchers  found very few countries with a reduction in the prevalence of overweight children. ©iStock
Researchers found very few countries with a reduction in the prevalence of overweight children. ©iStock

Related tags Obesity

China will have 48.5m overweight children by 2025, the largest number in the world, after witnessing the eighth largest global increase in percentage terms over the period 2000-2013.

India will have the second highest number of overweight children by 2025 (17.3m), with Indonesia eighth (6.2m) and Pakistan ninth (5.3m).

While these countries with large populations are far more likely to top the list in terms of total numbers, the percentage increase in the prevalence of overweight and obese children from 2000-2013 is damning.

China has seen a 40% increase in the prevalence of overweight and obese children between 2000 and 2013, the eighth largest rise globally.

In Indonesia it is 39.1%, the eleventh highest increase globally. Elsewhere in Asia, the Philippines has witnessed a 36.3% increase, Bangladesh 26.8% and Thailand 28.4%, resulting in five Asian countries being in the top 20 nations in terms of percentage increase for the number of children overweight or obese.

The findings were published in the journal Pediatric Obesity​ and released by the World Obesity Federation to coincide with World Obesity Day on Tuesday, October 11.

The study states: “Using data prepared by the Global Burden of Disease collaborative for 2000 and 2013, we have estimated that by 2025 some 268m children aged five to 17 years may be overweight, including 91 million obese, assuming no policy interventions have proven effective at changing current trends. We have also estimated the likely numbers of children in 2025 with obesity-related comorbidities: impaired glucose tolerance (12m), type 2 diabetes (4m), hypertension (27m) and hepatic steatosis (38m).”

Member states of the World Health Organization have adopted resolutions aiming to achieve ‘no increase on obesity levels’ by 2025 (based on 2010 levels) for infants, adolescents and adults.

Targets won’t be met

However, the report states that “the 2025 targets are unlikely to be met, and health service providers will need to plan for a significant increase in obesity-linked comorbidities.

Researchers added that they found very few countries with a reduction in overweight prevalence in the last decade.

“No countries showed a fall in childhood overweight prevalence of more than three percentage points over the period 2000–2013, while only two countries, Albania and Lesotho, showed a fall in prevalence more than two percentage points over the period,”​ they point out.

The World Obesity Federation has now set out three points​ it believes can help tackle the rise of childhood obesity.

They state governments need to strengthen their leadership to prevent, manage and treat childhood obesity with national childhood obesity strategies; that local services need to take action to prevent childhood obesity; and that health services must take action to manage childhood obesity

Last year we highlighted a report​ co-compiled by the General Administration of Sport of China and the Ministry of Education, which surveyed information from roughly 350,000 students aged 7-22 across 31 parts of the country.

it found that 18% of boys and 10% of girls were obese.

Source: Pediatric Obesity

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

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