Soaring global obesity rates come with hefty price tag

New research is offering fresh insight into the global epidemic of obesity, revealing which countries are suffering most, how much it could cost them to treat related illnesses, and giving one glimmer of hope in the battle to beat the bulge.

One study has found that the obesity rate among children in rich countries may have peaked, but kids in developing countries are increasingly putting on unhealthy pounds.

Globally, more children are still underweight rather than obese although the researchers think that will change by 2022 if trends continue.

The scientists in the U.K. and at the World Health Organization led an analysis of data from more than 2,400 studies that tracked the height and weight of about 32 million children from 5 to 19 years old. They created models to estimate trends in body mass index, a measurement based on height and weight, from 1975 to 2016.

Among developed countries, researchers estimated that obesity rates among children and teenagers had recently plateaued at about 10 percent in the U.K. and about 20 percent in the United States.

“This shows that something can be done about obesity, but it might be an exaggeration to call this ‘good news,'” said Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, one of the study authors. “These are still pretty high levels and we don’t want it to stay there, we want it to go down.”

A separate study, also released this week to mark World Obesity Day on Wednesday, shows that getting those figures down is not just an issue of public health, but also public finance.

The research by the World Obesity Federation (WOF) found that treating the effects of obesity will cost the world’s collective health care systems $1.2 trillion per year by 2025, and the increase in health care costs to the U.S. is on track to outpace all other nations.

According to the research, the U.S. was paying $325 billion per year in 2014 to treat cancers associated with obesity, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other health complaints with a link to…

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