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The link between Childhood and Adult obesity


According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates in 2016, more than 650 million adults worldwide were obese - or 13% of the world's adult population (11% of men and 15% of women). Obesity prevalence nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016! Once considered a health problem primarily affecting high-income countries, overweight and obesity is also increasing in low and middle-income countries as well.

Notably, while just under 1% of children aged 5-19 were obese in 1975, by 2016 this had risen to 6% in girls and 8% of boys (124 million). This development is potentially worrying, as the foundations for diet and nutrition in adulthood are oftentimes established during childhood.

 Scientific models have predicted that obese children are more likely to remain obese in adulthood as well, which demonstrates that prevention of obesity during childhood is critical in controlling the global obesity epidemic. As such, regular weight checks (and body composition scans, when appropriate) should be part of regular health care checkups, so identify and treat issues early. As a serious but preventable health issue, obesity should be taken seriously and controlled since childhood, to establish a healthier path to adulthood.