Teens’ health: Big survey shows surge in obesity

MONTREAL – There are more teenagers than ever on the planet, and their health is changing, says a gigantic study whose conclusions are published by the medical journal The Lancet.

The study looked at 12 health markers of the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents in 195 countries, including smoking, obesity, education, child marriage, nutrition, and diseases. non-transmissible.

“There is a great epidemiological change at the global level,” said Mathieu Bélanger, research director of the New Brunswick Medical Training Center. There is a shift in the health status of our young people […] from a fairly precarious state to diseases that are more associated with rich environments, but it’s not necessarily better. ”

In 2016, noncommunicable diseases accounted for 50% of the burden of disease among young people aged 10 to 24 years.

“There is a greater burden associated with chronic diseases that are more difficult to manage over time. There are more and more people who are exposed to lifestyle habits that lead to overweight and obesity, “warned Mr. Bélanger.

The study reveals that nearly one-fifth of teenagers in the world were overweight or obese, a jump of 120% over 1990. This means that there are now 180 million more teens who are too fat or obese.

Only one country out of 195, Congo, escapes an increase in overweight and obesity worldwide. There is a significant increase in the problem in almost all other countries.

“It’s huge,” said Mathieu Bélanger. There is reason to be concerned because [obesity] is associated with an increase in chronic diseases that are very difficult and very expensive to manage. The places most marked by the increase in obesity, which will eventually become more afflicted by an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases, are the places that did not yet face these challenges and have less the economic means of confronting them. ”

On the other hand, the number of young smokers fell by around 20% between 1990 and 2016 to some 136 million smokers.

“We have a very vulnerable population, which is in an extremely important development phase, they are our teenagers, and they were left out”
– Mathieu Bélanger, Director of Research, New Brunswick Medical Education Center

This new study sheds important light on adolescent health, an issue that often receives less attention than the health of toddlers or elders.

“We have a very vulnerable population, which is in an extremely important development phase, they are our teenagers, and they were left out,” said Mr. Bélanger, who has been interested in adolescent health for the past ten years. . There is little that was done at the level of this population, despite the fact that it is a population during which the development of lifestyle is extremely important. The behaviors we develop during the hinge years of adolescence are the behaviors we will maintain later in adulthood. ”

Mr. Bélanger has also noticed, over his years of work, that it is very difficult to change the lifestyle of our teenagers.

“There is very little success in changing the factors related to obesity and the possible development of diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” he said.

Other results:

– The number of teenagers who admit to drinking binge drinking has increased slightly between 1990 and 2016.

– In 2010, just over half of the 620 million young people aged 20 to 24 in the world had completed high school.

– In 2016, teenagers aged 15 to 19 had 11.7 million live babies, a 25% decline from 1990.

– The number of girls aged 15 to 24 who applied for modern contraception and who did not obtain satisfaction jumped by 33% between 1990 and 2016 to just over 73 million.

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