The number of children and teenagers worldwide classified as obese has increased tenfold since 1975, according to a report in The Lancet published to mark World Obesity Day.
Surveying more than 31 million five- to 19-year-olds across 200 countries, researchers estimate the number of obese children and adolescences has risen from 11 million in the mid-1970s to more than 124 million in 2016.
At 30%, the highest rate of child obesity was found in some islands of Polynesia, followed by countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia which have rates above 20%.
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Despite this, The Lancet has concluded that the rising trend in obesity among children from high-income countries has plateaued in recent years, although it appears to be accelerating in parts of Asia.
New figures released yesterday show the global cost of tackling obesity is expected to top £900m by 2025, by which time a third of the world's population could be classified as obese.
In the UK, a report by the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) says the biggest-spending crisp, confectionary and sugary drinks brands put more than £143m a year into advertising their products, while the government last year spent just £5.2m on its flagship Change4Life healthy eating campaign.
The OHA says the disparity is resulting in an unbalanced environment that pushes people towards unhealthy choices, and calls on the government to close loopholes to restrict children’s exposure to junk food marketing.
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