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Worldwide Trends in BMI in Children, Adolescents and Adults

Lancet reports on the analysis of 2416 studies, involving 128.9 million persons over 5 years of age shows previously rising trends in children's and adolescents' BMI have plateaued in many high-income countries, but still at high levels. 

Changes in mean BMI in girls between 1975-2016 ranged from virtually no change (−0·01 kg/m2 per decade) in eastern Europe to an increase of 1·00 kg/m2 per decade in central Latin America and an increase of 0·95 kg/m2 per decade in Polynesia and Micronesia.

Changes in mean BMI for boys ranged from a non-significant increase of 0·09 kg/m2 per decade in eastern Europe to an increase of 0·77 kg/m2 per decade in Polynesia and Micronesia.

Mean BMI have hit a plateau in northwestern Europe, high-income English-speaking and Asia-Pacific regions for both sexes, southwestern Europe for boys, and central and Andean Latin America for girls.

However BMI has increased in east and south Asia for both sexes, and southeast Asia for boys.

Global age-standardised prevalence of obesity increased from 0·7% in 1975 to 5·6% in 2016 in girls, and from 0·9% in 1975 to 7·8% in 2016 in boys.

Moderate and severe underweight was highest in India, at 22·7% among girls and 30·7% among boys. In 2016, 75 million girls and 117 million boys worldwide were moderately or severely underweight.

The highest levels of obesity (more than 30%) was seen in girls in Nauru, the Cook Islands, and Palau; and boys in the Cook Islands, Nauru, Palau, Niue, and American Samoa in 2016. Prevalence of obesity was about 20% or more in several countries in Polynesia and Micronesia, the Middle East and north Africa, the Caribbean, and the USA.

IN 2016, 50 million girls and 74 million boys worldwide were obese.


The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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