Study: Number of obese kids, teens has increased ten-fold

In the last 40 years, the number of obese children and adolescents across the globe has skyrocketed ten-fold, according to new research published Tuesday in The Lancet. And that's not the only public health issue researchers focused on. Specifically, 5 million girls were found to be obese in 1975, compared to 50 million in 2016. Boys saw a similar trajectory with obesity numbers climbing from 6 million to 74 million. Researchers from Imperial College London headed the study, which analyzed child and adolescent obesity trends across 200 countries, pooling together 2,416 population-based studies.

"While average BMI among children and adolescents has recently plateaued in Europe and North America, this is not an excuse for complacency as more than one in five young people in the U.S. and one in 10 in the U.K. are obese," James Bentham, University of Kent statistician and study author, told CNN.

Healthy eating initiatives in schools across America

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Healthy eating initiatives in schools across America
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Healthy eating initiatives in schools across America
BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 07: Boulder Valley School District director of food services Chef Ann Cooper, center top, and food service assistant Erika Sanchez, top right, serve up lunch (antibiotic-free beef hamburgers and oven baked fries) at Casey Middle School in Boulder September 07, 2017. Students also had the option of local tomato Caprese sliders, a salad bar and more healthy choices. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - SEPTEMBER 07: Local tomato Caprese sliders available for lunch service at Casey Middle School in Boulder September 07, 2017. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Maria Sandoval, a student in the Munroe Elementary School after-school garden club chops vegetables to put in a stir fry dish she would help cook in Denver, Colorado May 9, 2012. The students learn to grow and prepare healthy meals in the school's garden club with some of the food going to the school's lunch program. Colorado has the second fastest growing childhood obesity rate in the nation says non-profit LiveWell Colorado. Groups like Livewell are working to reduce childhood obesity by supporting school gardens, especially in low income areas, to provide learning about healthy food while actually providing nourishment. Studies have shown that children are more likely to try eating fresh fruit and vegetables if they are involved in growing them. Photo taken May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH EDUCATION SOCIETY)
Students in the Munroe Elementary School after-school garden club (L-R) Fatima Sandoval, Ruby Mendoza, Maria Sandoval and Naomi Ba?uelos show off plants they were going to plant in the school's garden in Denver, Colorado May 9, 2012. The students learn to grow and prepare healthy meals in the school's garden club, with some of the food going to the school's lunch program. Colorado has the second fastest growing childhood obesity rate in the nation says non-profit LiveWell Colorado. Groups like Livewell are working to reduce childhood obesity by supporting school gardens, especially in low income areas, to provide learning about healthy food while actually providing nourishment. Studies have shown that children are more likely to try eating fresh fruit and vegetables if they are involved in growing them. Photo taken May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH EDUCATION SOCIETY)
Students at Rose Hill Elementary School (L-R) Destiny Huges, Alexis Reubenstein and Sami Escadjeda choose the salad bar for lunch in Commerce City, Colorado May 1, 2012 instead of hamburgers and potatoes that were offered this day. Forty-three percent of the children at Rose Hill are on track to be obese according to the school's principal and Colorado has the second fastest growing childhood obesity rate in the nation says non-profit LiveWell Colorado. Groups like Livewell are working to reduce childhood obesity by supporting schools with culinary bootcamps to teach school kitchens how to provide healthier meals to students. Photo taken May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH EDUCATION SOCIETY)
Students at Rose Hill Elementary School including Yamilet Hinojos (R) and Yasmine Pinela (L) choose the salad bar for lunch in Commerce City, Colorado May 1, 2012 instead of hamburgers and potatoes that was offered this day. Forty-three percent of the children at Rose Hill are on track to be obese according to the school's principal and Colorado has the second fastest growing childhood obesity rate in the nation says non-profit LiveWell Colorado. Groups like Livewell are working to reduce childhood obesity by supporting schools with culinary bootcamps to teach school kitchens how to provide healthier meals to students. Photo taken May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH EDUCATION SOCIETY)
Ruby Mendoza, a student in the Munroe Elementary School gardening club, enjoys a meal she helped prepare by growing and chopping vegetables at the school in Denver, Colorado May 9, 2012. The students learn to grow and prepare healthy meals in the school's garden club with some of the food going to the school's lunch program. Colorado has the second fastest growing childhood obesity rate in the nation says non-profit LiveWell Colorado. Groups like Livewell are working to reduce childhood obesity by supporting school gardens, especially in low income areas, to provide learning about healthy food while actually providing nourishment. Studies have shown that children are more likely to try eating fresh fruit and vegetables if they are involved in growing them. Photo taken May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH EDUCATION SOCIETY)
A student keys in her payment code as she orders a healthy lunch at Marston Middle School in San Diego, California March 7, 2011. San Diego's Healthy Works Project received the countries largest grant, 16 million dollars, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 to help combat obesity. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION SOCIETY HEALTH FOOD)
Students get their lunch from a salad bar at the school cafeteria as some of more than 8,000lbs of locally grown broccoli from a partnership between Farm to School and Healthy School Meals is served at Marston Middle School in San Diego, California March 7, 2011. San Diego's Healthy Works Project received the countries largest grant, 16 million dollars, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 for obesity prevention. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION SOCIETY HEALTH FOOD BUSINESS)
Students sit down to eat a healthy lunch at Marston Middle School in San Diego, California, March 7, 2011. San Diego's Healthy Works Project received the countries largest grant, 16 million dollars, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 to help combat obesity. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION SOCIETY HEALTH FOOD)
Meals are prepared in the kitchen of Revolution Foods in Los Angeles August 19, 2009. Privately held Revolution Foods, which delivers health-focused, made-from-scratch lunches, breakfast and snacks to schools around California, got $6.5 million to expand into Colorado and Washington, D.C., bringing its total venture funding thus far to $17 million. Picture taken August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES POLITICS HEALTH FOOD BUSINESS)
Fresh vegetables are chopped in the kitchen of Revolution Foods in Los Angeles August 19, 2009. Privately held Revolution Foods, which delivers health-focused, made-from-scratch lunches, breakfast and snacks to schools around California, got $6.5 million to expand into Colorado and Washington, D.C., bringing its total venture funding thus far to $17 million. Picture taken August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES POLITICS HEALTH BUSINESS FOOD)
Chef Bertil Diaz cooks rice in the kitchen of Revolution Foods in Los Angeles August 19, 2009. Privately held Revolution Foods, which delivers health-focused, made-from-scratch lunches, breakfast and snacks to schools around California, got $6.5 million to expand into Colorado and Washington, D.C., bringing its total venture funding thus far to $17 million. Picture taken August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES POLITICS HEALTH BUSINESS FOOD)
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But while the number of obese children in the world has soared, there are even greater numbers of children and adolescents between ages 5 and 19 who are moderately to severely underweight (192 million).

What's clear from this research is that undernutrition and obesity issues haven't been top of mind for the same groups, and that both require attention.

"Our findings highlight the disconnect between the global dialogue on overweight and obesity, which has largely overlooked the remaining under-nutrition burden, and the initiatives and donors focusing on under-nutrition that have paid little attention to the looming burden of overweight and obesity," study author Majid Ezzati, professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London in the U.K., told CNN.

In the U.S. alone, 1 in 6 children and adolescents are obese.

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