Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Globally, in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 41 million. Almost half of all overweight children under 5 lived in Asia and one quarter lived in Africa.
Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable. Prevention of childhood obesity therefore needs high priority.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity in adolescents is defined according to the WHO growth reference for school-aged children and adolescents (overweight = one standard deviation body mass index for age and sex, and obese = two standard deviations body mass index for age and sex)