The State of Worldwide Obesity

“Adiposity” is the state of being obese or overweight.  The World Health Organization has spent two years studying adiposity in more than 100 countries.  WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity has now released its final report.  Among the findings:

  • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980
  • The number of adipose children under the age of five has increased from 32 million to 42 million over the past 15 years
  • In Africa, the number of adipose children has nearly doubled, from 4 million to 9 million
  • Asia accounts for nearly half of the total number of adipose children
  • If current trends continue, there will be 70 million adipose children worldwide by 2025

“To date, progress in tackling childhood obesity has been slow and inconsistent,” the authors write.  “The obesity epidemic has the potential to negate many of the health benefits that have contributed to the increased longevity observed in the world.”

In wealthier countries, poorer children are more likely to be adipose.  This is due in part to the cheap availability of unhealthy fast foods and snacks.  In poorer countries, wealthier children are more likely to be adipose.  This is due in part to cultural beliefs that overweight children are considered to be healthier.

The authors conclude that “dieting and exercise alone is not the solution.”  The report calls for a more comprehensive and integrated response from governments, global health organization and individuals.

The report also discusses biological contributors to adiposity, including genes and diabetes.

In a recent study, Chinese researchers investigated the contribution of MicroRNAs to adiposity and insulin resistance.  MiRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression.  Insulin resistance can contribute to high blood sugar and type-2 diabetes.

The researchers found that 34 miRNAs were expressed differently in obese patients.  In particular, levels of miR-122 were three times higher.  The study concluded that elevated miR-122 is positively associated with obesity and insulin resistance in young adults.  These findings provide a better understanding regarding the role of miRNAs in adiposity and insulin sensitivity.

The scientists used an Agilent Bioanalyzer system, microarrays, microarray scanner and GeneSpring software in their research.

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