Obese teens 'likely to stay overweight and have ill health'
Young people who struggle with their weight are likely to continue to be overweight as adults, a worrying new report warns today.
The study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that nearly four in every five teenagers who are obese will have weight issues in their later years.
It also found that obese teens will carry forward the increased risk of ill health, stigma and discrimination into adulthood.
The report, launched today at the European Congress on Obesity in Portugal, reveals the number of obese adolescents is continuing to rise in many countries across the European region.
"Despite sustained efforts to tackle childhood obesity, one-in-three adolescents is still estimated to be overweight or obese in Europe, with the highest rates found in southern European and Mediterranean countries.
"What is of particular concern is that the epidemic is on the rise in eastern European countries, where historically rates have been lower," said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.
"Ambitious policy action is required to reach the sustainable development goal to halt the increase in childhood obesity. Governments must target efforts and break this harmful cycle from childhood into adolescence and beyond."
The report said childhood obesity is considered one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.
Obese children are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep difficulties, musculoskeletal problems and future cardiovascular disease, as well as school absence, psychological problems and social isolation.
The report highlights persisting inequalities in obesity among young people. In general, younger adolescents, boys and those living in families of lower socioeconomic status, including Ireland, are more likely to be obese.
The findings indicate that ongoing health promotion and disease prevention efforts aimed at reducing childhood obesity are failing.
Policy initiatives and interventions need to target high-risk adolescents to improve the chances for young people to exercise.