PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Childhood obesity is an especially big problem in Philadelphia, and a new study that looks at the global picture says being overweight when you’re young has lasting effects.
The number of obese children and teens is now 10 times higher than it was 40 years ago, according to the the World Health Organization. It blames poor nutrition and lack of exercise. And the problem is more than just physical.
The study in the journal “Lancet” also says obese children tend to be overweight as adults.
“It is also more likely to lead to early onset of conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” Leanne Riley of WHO said.
The research shows an estimated 74 million boys and 50 million girls are obese worldwide.
Obesity rates are still rising in poorer nations but have leveled off in countries like the US and here in the UK.
A mother of two, Ruth Blackburn tries to feed her 3-year-old organic foods and no refined sugar.
“I limit the amount of meat that she has and find protein in other ways, like lots of seeds and fresh vegetables,” Blackburn said.
Health experts are trying to educate more parents, as well as schools and governments about the importance of balanced diets, proper food labeling and the long-term impact of childhood obesity.
The research analyzed data from 24,000 different studies that tracked the height and weight of 32 million children between the ages of 5 and 19. It’s considered one of the most comprehensive reports to date on childhood obesity.
With alarming implications for the future, those children facing increased risks for all sorts of health problems.