MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new study says the problem of childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate because kids are making poor food choices and aren’t getting enough exercise.
The World Health Organization says the number of obese children and teens is now 10 times higher than it was 40 years ago due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise.
And the problem is more than just physical.
“Social psychological problems for the children themselves, more stigmatism, more bullying,” said Leanne Riley with the World Health Organization.
An online study in the journal “Lancet” finds that obese children tend to be overweight as adults.
“It is also more likely to lead to early onset of conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” said Riley.
Experts analyzed data from 2,400 different studies that tracked the height and weight of 32 million children 5 to 19 years old.
The research shows an estimated 74 million boys and 50 million girls are obese worldwide. Obesity rates are still rising in poorer nations but have leveled off in countries like the U.S. and U.K.
Ruth Blackburn, a mother of two, tries to feed her 3-year-old organic foods and no refined sugar.
“I limit the amount of meat that she has and find protein in other ways, like lots of seeds and fresh vegetables,” she said.
Health experts are trying to educate more parents, like Blackburn, as well as schools and governments about the importance of balanced diets, proper food labeling and the long-term impact of childhood obesity.
Some countries, like Mexico, South Africa and the U.K. have implemented or increased taxes on unhealthy foods and sugary drinks.