Calls for government intervention after WHO's youth obesity report

The World Health Organization claims escalating child obesity is putting young Australians at risk with calls for governments to step in.

Calls for government intervention after WHO's youth obesity report
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The World Health Organization has ranked Australia second in a chart listing of the fattest kids in the world with reported experts calling for government intervention.

The report claims that 21.8 per cent of Aussie kids were overweight.

The fattest kids in the world were found in Libya were 28.7 per cent of children aged under five were overweight.

The WHO warned that 37 million children under the age of five around the world were now considered fat. That number had ballooned from just one million at the turn of the century.

After Libya and Australia fat kids were next most likely to be found in Tunisia, Egypt and Papua New Guinea where the percentage of kids tipping the wrong side of the scales was 19, 18.8 and 16 per cent respectively.

American children ranked 52nd in the world, with 7.9 per cent classified as overweight.

The WHO warned that obesity was “moving in the wrong direction” and showed “no immediate sign of reversion”.

It said that more than half the world’s 8 billion people would be overweight by 2035 if current trends continued.

At the other end of the scale, less than 1 per cent of children in Myanmar were classified as fat and only 1.3 per cent in Sri Lanka.

The WHO blamed easy access to fast food, hours of screen time and sedentary lifestyles for growing rates of childhood obesity.

Dr Kathryn Dalrymple, a medical statistician at King's College London said childhood obesity represented one of the biggest challenges to global health.

“The development of obesity in early life is associated with several adverse health outcomes, including the development diabetes, cardiovascular disease and poor mental health,” she said.

"Furthermore, once obesity is established in early life, it often tracks into adulthood therefore creating a lifelong condition.”

She said governments needed to act to prevent children becoming fat as that was the “opportune window to intervene”.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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