The Epidemic of Obesity in Children and Adolescents in the World Academic Article uri icon


  • The prevalence of obesity has reached alarming levels, affecting virtually both developed and developing countries of all socio-economic groups, irrespective of age, sex or ethnicity. Concerning childhood obesity, it has been estimated that worldwide over 22 million children under the age of 5 are severely overweight, and one in 10 children are overweight. This global average reflects a wide range of prevalence levels, with the prevalence of overweight in Africa and Asia averaging well below 10% and in the Americas and Europe above 20%. The proportion of school-age children affected will almost double by 2010 compared with the most recently available surveys from the late 1990s up to 2003. In the European Union, the number of children who are overweight is expected to rise by 1.3 million children per year, with more than 300,000 of them becoming obese each year without urgent action to counteract the trend. By 2010 it is estimated that 26 million children in E.U. countries will be overweight, including 6.4 million who will be obese. Moreover, in the U.S.A. the prevalence of obesity in adolescents has increased dramatically from 5% to 13% in boys and from 5% to 9% in girls between 1966-70 and 1988-91. In this review paper we present the epidemiology of obesity in children and adolescents, including prevalence rates, trends, and risk factors associated with this phenomenon.

publication date

  • December 1, 2006