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Junk food blamed for a tenfold rise in obese children

CHILDHOOD obesity has risen more than tenfold in four decades, with British girls now the sixth fattest in Europe.

Junk food is to blame for an increase in the number of obese five to 19-year-olds from 11million in 1975 to 124million last year, according to a new global study.

If the trend continues the world will have more obese youngsters than underweight ones by 2022, researchers say.

The study, published today on World Obesity Day and led by Imperial College London and the World Health Organisation, is based on measurements taken from nearly 130 million people since 1975. It shows that, in addition to the obese children, 213million were overweight but fell below the obesity threshold last year.

Prof Majid Ezzati, of Imperial’s school of public health, said: ‘These trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies, with healthy nutritious foods too expensive for poor families.’

The Obesity Health Alliance said the advertising spend of 18 crisp, confectionery and sugary drinks brands totals £143million a year.

But the British Soft Drinks Association said firms voluntarily agreed last year not to advertise sugary drinks to under 16s. Public Health England said: ‘Our sugar reduction programme and the government’s sugar levy are world-leading.’

British boys are in better shape than girls — Europe’s 18th fattest.

■ OVARIAN reserve tests aimed at would-be mums worried they have left it too late may be a waste of money, US researchers say. The results of the urinary or blood follicle-stimulating hormone tests have no bearing on whether women become pregnant, found the University of North Carolina team. They studied women aged 30 to 44 with no history of infertility who had tried to conceive for three months or less.