Skip to main content

The epidemiological burden of obesity in childhood: a worldwide epidemic requiring urgent action

Mariachiara, Di Cesare, Sorić, Maroje, Bovet, Pascal, Miranda, J Jaime, Bhutta, Zulfiqar, Stevens, Gretchen, Laxmaiah, Avula, Kengne, Andre-Pascal, Bentham, James (2019) The epidemiological burden of obesity in childhood: a worldwide epidemic requiring urgent action. BMC Medicine, 17 . p. 212. ISSN 1741-7015. (doi:10.1186/s12916-019-1449-8)

PDF - Publisher pdf

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Download (43MB) Preview
PDF - Author's Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication Download (34MB)
Official URL


Background: In recent decades, the prevalence of obesity in children has increased dramatically. This worldwide epidemic has important consequences, including psychiatric, psychological and psychosocial disorders in childhood, and increased risk of developing noncommunicable diseases later in life. Treatment of obesity is difficult, and children with excess weight are likely to become adults with obesity. These trends have led World Health Organization (WHO) member states to endorse a target of no increase in obesity in childhood by 2025. Main body: Estimates of overweight in children aged under 5 years are available jointly from UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank. Country-level estimates of obesity in children aged from 2 to 4 years have been published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). For children aged from 5 to 19, obesity estimates are available from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration. The global prevalence of overweight in children aged under 5 years has increased modestly, but with heterogeneous trends in low- and middle-income regions, while the prevalence of obesity in children aged from 2 to 4 has increased moderately. For children aged 5 to 19, obesity was relatively rare in 1975, but was much more common in 2016. Conclusions: It is recognised that the key drivers of this epidemic form an obesogenic environment, which includes changing food systems and reduced physical activity. Although cost-effective interventions such as WHO “best buys” have been identified, political will and implementation have so far been limited. There is therefore a need to implement effective programmes and policies in multiple sectors to address overnutrition, undernutrition, mobility and physical activity. To be successful, the obesity epidemic must be a political priority, with these issues addressed both locally and globally. This must involve coordinated work by governments, civil society, private corporations and other key stakeholders.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1186/s12916-019-1449-8
Uncontrolled keywords: obesity, overweight, global health, children, adolescents
Subjects: Q Science
Divisions: Faculties > Sciences > School of Mathematics Statistics and Actuarial Science > Statistics
Depositing User: James Bentham
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2019 11:46 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2019 13:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Bentham, James:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year