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Worldwide trends in body-mass index, underweight, overweight, and obesity from 1975 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 2416 population-based measurement studies in 128·9 million children, adolescents, and adults

NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC)

Lancet (London, England)

Elsevier

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      Summary

      Background

      Underweight, overweight, and obesity in childhood and adolescence are associated with adverse health consequences throughout the life-course. Our aim was to estimate worldwide trends in mean body-mass index (BMI) and a comprehensive set of BMI categories that cover underweight to obesity in children and adolescents, and to compare trends with those of adults.

      Methods

      We pooled 2416 population-based studies with measurements of height and weight on 128·9 million participants aged 5 years and older, including 31·5 million aged 5–19 years. We used a Bayesian hierarchical model to estimate trends from 1975 to 2016 in 200 countries for mean BMI and for prevalence of BMI in the following categories for children and adolescents aged 5–19 years: more than 2 SD below the median of the WHO growth reference for children and adolescents (referred to as moderate and severe underweight hereafter), 2 SD to more than 1 SD below the median (mild underweight), 1 SD below the median to 1 SD above the median (healthy weight), more than 1 SD to 2 SD above the median (overweight but not obese), and more than 2 SD above the median (obesity).

      Findings

      Regional change in age-standardised mean BMI in girls from 1975 to 2016 ranged from virtually no change (−0·01 kg/m 2 per decade; 95% credible interval −0·42 to 0·39, posterior probability [PP] of the observed decrease being a true decrease=0·5098) in eastern Europe to an increase of 1·00 kg/m 2 per decade (0·69–1·35, PP>0·9999) in central Latin America and an increase of 0·95 kg/m 2 per decade (0·64–1·25, PP>0·9999) in Polynesia and Micronesia. The range for boys was from a non-significant increase of 0·09 kg/m 2 per decade (−0·33 to 0·49, PP=0·6926) in eastern Europe to an increase of 0·77 kg/m 2 per decade (0·50–1·06, PP>0·9999) in Polynesia and Micronesia. Trends in mean BMI have recently flattened in northwestern Europe and the high-income English-speaking and Asia-Pacific regions for both sexes, southwestern Europe for boys, and central and Andean Latin America for girls. By contrast, the rise in BMI has accelerated in east and south Asia for both sexes, and southeast Asia for boys. Global age-standardised prevalence of obesity increased from 0·7% (0·4–1·2) in 1975 to 5·6% (4·8–6·5) in 2016 in girls, and from 0·9% (0·5–1·3) in 1975 to 7·8% (6·7–9·1) in 2016 in boys; the prevalence of moderate and severe underweight decreased from 9·2% (6·0–12·9) in 1975 to 8·4% (6·8–10·1) in 2016 in girls and from 14·8% (10·4–19·5) in 1975 to 12·4% (10·3–14·5) in 2016 in boys. Prevalence of moderate and severe underweight was highest in India, at 22·7% (16·7–29·6) among girls and 30·7% (23·5–38·0) among boys. Prevalence of obesity was more than 30% 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, 75 (44–117) million girls and 117 (70–178) million boys worldwide were moderately or severely underweight. In the same year, 50 (24–89) million girls and 74 (39–125) million boys worldwide were obese.

      Interpretation

      The rising trends in children's and adolescents' BMI have plateaued in many high-income countries, albeit at high levels, but have accelerated in parts of Asia, with trends no longer correlated with those of adults.

      Funding

      Wellcome Trust, AstraZeneca Young Health Programme.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 54

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      Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.

      In 2010, overweight and obesity were estimated to cause 3·4 million deaths, 3·9% of years of life lost, and 3·8% of disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) worldwide. The rise in obesity has led to widespread calls for regular monitoring of changes in overweight and obesity prevalence in all populations. Comparable, up-to-date information about levels and trends is essential to quantify population health effects and to prompt decision makers to prioritise action. We estimate the global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013. We systematically identified surveys, reports, and published studies (n=1769) that included data for height and weight, both through physical measurements and self-reports. We used mixed effects linear regression to correct for bias in self-reports. We obtained data for prevalence of obesity and overweight by age, sex, country, and year (n=19,244) with a spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression model to estimate prevalence with 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs). Worldwide, the proportion of adults with a body-mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m(2) or greater increased between 1980 and 2013 from 28·8% (95% UI 28·4-29·3) to 36·9% (36·3-37·4) in men, and from 29·8% (29·3-30·2) to 38·0% (37·5-38·5) in women. Prevalence has increased substantially in children and adolescents in developed countries; 23·8% (22·9-24·7) of boys and 22·6% (21·7-23·6) of girls were overweight or obese in 2013. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has also increased in children and adolescents in developing countries, from 8·1% (7·7-8·6) to 12·9% (12·3-13·5) in 2013 for boys and from 8·4% (8·1-8·8) to 13·4% (13·0-13·9) in girls. In adults, estimated prevalence of obesity exceeded 50% in men in Tonga and in women in Kuwait, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, Tonga, and Samoa. Since 2006, the increase in adult obesity in developed countries has slowed down. Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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        Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey.

        To develop an internationally acceptable definition of child overweight and obesity, specifying the measurement, the reference population, and the age and sex specific cut off points. International survey of six large nationally representative cross sectional growth studies. Brazil, Great Britain, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. 97 876 males and 94 851 females from birth to 25 years of age. Body mass index (weight/height(2)). For each of the surveys, centile curves were drawn that at age 18 years passed through the widely used cut off points of 25 and 30 kg/m(2) for adult overweight and obesity. The resulting curves were averaged to provide age and sex specific cut off points from 2-18 years. The proposed cut off points, which are less arbitrary and more internationally based than current alternatives, should help to provide internationally comparable prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in children.
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          Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries.

          Maternal and child malnutrition in low-income and middle-income countries encompasses both undernutrition and a growing problem with overweight and obesity. Low body-mass index, indicative of maternal undernutrition, has declined somewhat in the past two decades but continues to be prevalent in Asia and Africa. Prevalence of maternal overweight has had a steady increase since 1980 and exceeds that of underweight in all regions. Prevalence of stunting of linear growth of children younger than 5 years has decreased during the past two decades, but is higher in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere and globally affected at least 165 million children in 2011; wasting affected at least 52 million children. Deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc result in deaths; deficiencies of iodine and iron, together with stunting, can contribute to children not reaching their developmental potential. Maternal undernutrition contributes to fetal growth restriction, which increases the risk of neonatal deaths and, for survivors, of stunting by 2 years of age. Suboptimum breastfeeding results in an increased risk for mortality in the first 2 years of life. We estimate that undernutrition in the aggregate--including fetal growth restriction, stunting, wasting, and deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc along with suboptimum breastfeeding--is a cause of 3·1 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths in 2011. Maternal overweight and obesity result in increased maternal morbidity and infant mortality. Childhood overweight is becoming an increasingly important contributor to adult obesity, diabetes, and non-communicable diseases. The high present and future disease burden caused by malnutrition in women of reproductive age, pregnancy, and children in the first 2 years of life should lead to interventions focused on these groups. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Author and article information

            Author notes
            [†]

            Members listed in the appendix

            Journal
            Lancet
            Lancet
            Lancet (London, England)
            Elsevier
            0140-6736
            1474-547X
            16 December 2017
            16 December 2017
            : 390
            : 10113
            : 2627-2642
            29029897 5735219 S0140-6736(17)32129-3 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32129-3
            © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license

            This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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            Medicine

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