12.5 mn children, teens in India obese in 2022: Lancet study

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About 12.5 million children aged between five and 19 in India were overweight in 2022, according to a global analysis published in The Lancet journal. Of the 12.5, 7.3 million were boys and 5.2 million girls.

The total number of children, adolescents and adults worldwide living with obesity has surpassed one billion. These trends, together with the declining prevalence of people who are underweight since 1990, make obesity the most common form of malnutrition in most countries, the researchers said.

Obesity and underweight are both forms of malnutrition and are detrimental to people’s health in many ways. The latest study provides a highly detailed picture of global trends in both forms of malnutrition over the last 33 years.

The analysis by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC) — a global network of scientists — and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that among the world’s children and adolescents, the rate of obesity in 2022 was four times the rate in 1990. “It is very concerning that the epidemic of obesity that was evident among adults in much of the world in 1990 is now mirrored in school-aged children and adolescents,” said senior author Professor Majid Ezzati, from Imperial College London in the UK.

“At the same time, hundreds of millions are still affected by undernutrition, particularly in some of the poorest parts of the world. To successfully tackle both forms of malnutrition it is vital we significantly improve the availability and affordability of healthy, nutritious foods,” Ezzati said. Among adults, the global obesity rate more than doubled in women and nearly tripled in men. In total, 159 million children and adolescents and 879 million adults were living with obesity in 2022, according to the study.

In India, adult obesity rate increased from 1.2 per cent in 1990 to 9.8 per cent in 2022 for women and 0.5 per cent to 5.4 per cent for men. Nearly 44 million women and 26 million men had obesity in 2022. Between 1990 and 2022, the proportion of the world’s children and adolescents who were affected by underweight fell by around one-fifth in girls and more than one-third in boys. The proportion of the world’s adults who were affected by being underweight more than halved over the same period.

The obesity rate increased from 0.1 per cent in 1990 to 3.1 per cent in 2022 for girls and 0.1 per cent to 3.9 per cent in 2022 for boys. The researchers analysed weight and height measurements from over 220 million people aged five years or older (63 million people aged five to 19 years, and 158 million aged 20 years or older), representing more than 190 countries. Over 1,500 researchers contributed to the study, which looked at body mass index (BMI) to understand how obesity and underweight have changed worldwide from 1990 to 2022.

From 1990 to 2022, global obesity rates more than quadrupled in girls and boys, with increases seen in almost all countries, the study found. The proportion of underweight girls fell from 10.3 per cent in 1990 to 8.2 per cent in 2022, and for boys, it fell from 16.7 per cent to 10.8 per cent, the researchers said. Among girls, a decrease in the rates of underweight was detected in 44 countries, whilst among boys, a decrease was noted in 80 countries, they said.