Unhealthy diets are impeding the growth of children across the world, new research has found.
Children are becoming heavier but shorter, the study in trusted medical journal The Lancet reports, even in developed countries like England.
In only one generation, childhood obesity has “risen substantially”, write the authors, and yet this may not always be due to excess body fat.
Low height for age may also be an increasing problem, the article says. For example, recent studies have reported that 5 per cent of overweight children in Vietnam were also stunted, and 6 per cent in Brazil.
The height of many English school children is also declining as their weight balloons, the report says, with junk food, sugary drinks and a lack of exercise the cause.
Children must be protected from “increasingly sophisticated marketing of sedentary activities and energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and beverages”, warn the authors.
The Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin has previously told The New Daily that junk food advertising aimed at children is “insidious” and designed to make them eat more unhealthy foods more regularly.
“It’s exploiting children’s inability to understand the intent of the marketing,” Ms Martin said.
Another study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and published in the same journal, reports that almost the entire world is eating more junk food.
International researchers combed through more than 320 self-reported diet surveys from 1990 to 2010 and looked at how often people said they ate 17 common foods, drinks and nutrients.
This included healthy choices like fruits, vegetables and fish and unhealthier alternatives like salt, processed meat and sugary drinks.
Experts found that even though people are eating more healthy foods including whole grains and fish, there has been an even bigger jump in the amount of junk food eaten.