Newest Obesity Stats Alarming


The year 1975 was a little over 40 years ago, and during the intervening time, the rate of childhood obesity has multiplied by 10. Who says so? A meta-study utilizing data from 2,416 previous studies on close to 129 million subjects.

Here is the title of a report from The Lancet: “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.” If that doesn’t raise some red flags, then nothing will.

The report includes plenty of charts, which Forbes writer Bruce Y. Lee describes thusly:

The curves in nearly every case look like ski slopes, except that they are going the wrong direction: upwards.

On a list of 200 countries, Singapore is in the best shape, but even there the rate of obesity among girls has doubled during the time frame. Within another 10 years, the worldwide cost for the medical consequences of obesity is on track to reach $1.2 trillion annually.

Unfortunately, expenses will mount more voraciously in the countries that can least sustain them. For some reason, the South Pacific islands have the most dismal numbers. Although conditions in developing countries are likely to worsen, the child obesity rate in wealthy countries “may have peaked,” according to the Associated Press. This is cold comfort, when the obesity rate among American children and teens is already pushing 20%.

What is going on?

Lee calls it a “complex systems problem” of which questionable food and beverage ingredients are only one factor. Cities, workplaces and schools are generally not designed for practical walking purposes, and kids have fewer places to get healthful exercise than ever before. People sit and stare at the screens of electronic devices all day.

We are also negatively impacted, Lee says, by “the things that are in our environment (e.g., more pollution, more medications) and many other systems that affect diet, physical activity, and metabolism.” Nobody really has a handle on exactly what the ubiquitous chemical atmosphere is doing to humans, but all suspect that the effects are devastating.

Since the report hit the news, professionals in many fields are reacting. From the world-famous Mayo Clinic, pediatric psychologist Dr. Bridget Biggs expressed alarm via local news outlets, and with good reason. In addition to pediatric obesity intervention and prevention, bullying is an area of her expertise. Of course obesity is a chief cause of that kind of abuse. Dr. Biggs has studied “social barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and physical activity” and the motivators that compel overweight teens toward weight loss.

Dr. Pretlow has just returned from Berlin where about 10,000 mental health professionals attended the World Congress of Psychiatry. On the event’s program page, four main topics are listed, and one of them is “Comorbidity of mental and physical diseases.” Dr. Pretlow says:

Candid accounts from thousands of obese individuals have confirmed to me that obesity is primarily a psychological problem.

That is exactly what he travelled there to speak about, and Childhood Obesity News will have more to say on the subject.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Worldwide trends in body-mass index, underweight, overweight, and obesity from 1975 to 2016…,”, 10/10/17
Source: “Childhood Obesity Increased More Than Tenfold Since 1975,”, 10/10/17
Source: “Children’s obesity rates in rich countries may have peaked,”, 10/10/17
Source: “Summary,”, undated
Source: “Psychiatry of the 21st Century: Context, Controversies and Commitment,”
Image source: mattz90/123RF Stock Photo

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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