Childhood obesity in India soars to 12.5 million in 2022, up from 0.4 million in 1990: Study

The study offers a detailed overview of global trends in both forms of malnutrition over the past 33 years.

The Lancet journal has published a global analysis revealing a significant rise in childhood obesity in India, with approximately 12.5 million individuals aged five to 19 overweight in 2022 compared to 0.4 million in 1990. Out of this total, 7.3 million were boys, and 5.2 million were girls.

The global study by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration and the World Health Organization indicates that the total number of children, adolescents, and adults worldwide living with obesity has exceeded one billion.

The research emphasizes the concerning trend of obesity prevalence among school-aged children and adolescents, reflecting a global epidemic that was initially evident among adults in 1990. Additionally, the study notes a decline in underweight prevalence since 1990, making obesity the most common form of malnutrition in many countries.

The analysis shows that the rate of obesity among the world’s children and adolescents in 2022 was four times higher than in 1990. In India, the adult obesity rate has increased significantly, from 1.2% in 1990 to 9.8% in 2022 for women and from 0.5% to 5.4% for men.

While the proportion of underweight children and adolescents has decreased globally, the obesity rate has quadrupled in girls and boys. The study highlights the need for improved availability and affordability of healthy, nutritious foods to address both forms of malnutrition successfully.

The double burden of malnutrition, which includes both obesity and underweight, increased in most countries between 1990 and 2022, primarily driven by rising obesity rates. However, some countries in South and Southeast Asia, as well as certain African nations, witnessed a decline in the double burden for men, where the rate of underweight sharply fell.

The study underscores the impact of global challenges such as climate change, disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, which could exacerbate rates of obesity and underweight due to increased poverty and the cost of nutrient-rich foods. To address these challenges and create a healthier world, comprehensive policies are needed.

In 2022, an estimated 880 million adults were living with obesity, marking a fourfold increase from 195 million in 1990. When combined with the 159 million children living with obesity in 2022, the total affected by obesity surpassed one billion. These trends have shifted the balance, with more people affected by obesity than underweight in most countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized the importance of preventing and managing obesity from early life to adulthood through diet, physical activity, and adequate care. He called for evidence-based policies and collaboration with the private sector to address the health impacts of products.

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