The global rate of childhood obesity has skyrocketed over the past 40 years, according to new research published in The Lancet.
The research shows the number of obese kids and young adults ages 5 to 19 increased by 10 times — from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.
The World Health Organization, which helped lead the study, defines obesity as having a body mass index of 30 or more.
Territories in Polynesia and Micronesia held some of the highest increases — and those numbers climbed steadily in recent years.
Another key takeaway: Childhood obesity rates in high-income regions like the U.S. and Europe have plateaued — but not declined.
Study authors say part of the problem is the high cost of healthy foods.
"These worrying trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe, with healthy nutritious foods too expensive for poor families and communities," lead researcher Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London School of Public Health, said. "We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods."
The researchers offered other solutions to combating the childhood obesity epidemic, including reducing consumption of processed foods and promoting more physical activity.