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More than a billion people suffer from obesity worldwide, according to a study. And Canada? – National |


More than a billion people worldwide struggle with obesity, and the number of children in particular is seeing an alarming increase, according to a new study.

A global analysis published in the Lancet revealed Thursday that obesity rates among children and adolescents across the world quadrupled between 1990 and 2022. During that period, obesity rates more than doubled among adult women and nearly tripled among adult men.

“It is of great concern that the obesity epidemic that was evident among adults in much of the world in 1990 is now reflected in school-aged children and adolescents,” said Majid Ezzati, lead author and professor at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London. .

“At the same time, hundreds of millions of people still suffer from undernutrition, particularly in some of the world’s poorest regions. To effectively combat both forms of malnutrition, it is essential to significantly improve the availability and affordable accessibility of healthy and nutritious foods,” he said in a press release on Thursday.

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The new study was conducted by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). To find this data, researchers looked at the weight and height measurements of more than 220 million people aged five or older, representing more than 190 countries. The aim of the study was to understand how obesity and underweight have changed around the world between 1990 and 2022.

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In total, 159 million children and adolescents (65 million girls and 94 million boys) were living with obesity in 2022. In comparison, in 1990, 31 million children and adolescents were living with obesity. obesity.

Among adults, the study found that approximately 880 million adults were living with obesity in 2022 (504 million women and 374 million men), four and a half times the 195 million recorded in 1990 (128 million women and 67 million men).

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The study also found that over the same period, rates of underweight declined among children, adolescents and adults, causing obesity to become the most common form of malnutrition in many countries.

“This new study highlights the importance of preventing and managing obesity from early childhood through adulthood, through diet, physical activity and adequate care, according to needs,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in a press release on Thursday.

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“Getting back on track to meet global obesity targets will require the work of governments and communities, supported by evidence-based policies from WHO and national public health agencies. Above all, this requires the cooperation of the private sector, which must be responsible for the health impacts of its products,” he added.

The increase in the double burden of obesity and underweight was greatest in some low- and middle-income countries, the study found, including parts of the Caribbean and the Middle East.

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In these countries, obesity rates are now higher than in many high-income countries, particularly in Europe. In some European countries like Spain, there are signs that obesity rates may be starting to decline or at least stagnate.

The countries with the highest prevalence of obesity in 2022 were Tonga and American Samoa for women, and American Samoa and Nauru for men in Polynesia and Micronesia, where more than 60% of the adult population lived with obesity.

And the countries with the highest prevalence of obesity in 2022 were Niue and the Cook Islands for both girls and boys, where more than 30% of the child and adolescent population lived with obesity. ‘obesity.

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Although obesity rates are higher in low- and middle-income countries, Canada is not immune.

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Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam, scientific director of Obesity Canada, said one in four Canadians live with obesity, which is “a significant concern.”

“We know obesity is a chronic disease,” he said. “This is associated with many complications, such as increased mortality. Obesity leads to other health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, cancers and mental health problems.

And then we also see that people living with obesity obviously have a shortened lifespan and are also a result of all of these medical conditions. And so this burden is enormous,” he added.

According to 2022 data from Lancet study, Canada ranks 50th in the world for obesity among men and 104th among women. When it comes to childhood obesity, Canada ranks 80th for girls and 94th for boys.

The study authors believe the change in the onset of youth obesity over three decades may be due to access to commercial and processed foods among school-age children.

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It has also been hypothesized that some recreational games and sports have been replaced by sedentary activities, but data on trends is scarce, the study found.

Ezzati said financial difficulties are a contributing factor.

“Eating healthily is expensive. And the rising cost of food in recent years hasn’t helped. But one of the roles of politics is actually to bring good health to people before they get rich,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.

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Price growth at Canadian grocery stores has slowed from recent highs, but prices were still up 3.4 per cent in January.

Sanjeev believes that genetics, environmental factors and societal influences play an important role in determining obesity rates in Canada.

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“Despite our best efforts, we still have not been able to curb or reverse some of these trends,” he said. “It’s also the abundance of high-calorie foods, the environments we live in in social media and advertisements that have also bombarded us with images of foods that may not be part of our fashion of healthy living, but also of our way of life as a person. whole.”

“In Canada, in more rural and underserved areas, the price of nutritious foods can be quite ridiculous. And for the average family, trying to feed their children, this can be a huge limitation in what they have access to.

He added that if obesity is not addressed quickly, global rates will continue to rise, with children and young people remaining most vulnerable. This trend will have a huge impact on people’s lives and society as a whole.

– with files from Reuters


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