Childhood obesity and physical fitness are increasing and decreasing among children in developed countries, respectively; this has become an international social problem. Recently, this tendency has appeared in the Asian region, particularly among urban-dwelling children in locations experiencing rapid economic development. After the Second World War, Japan experienced the earliest economic development in Asia; this led to intergenerational changes in body size and physical fitness among Japanese children. Japanese children’s current physical status may thus predict that of children in other Asian countries.
We reviewed Japanese children’s physical fitness and anthropometric data using nationally repre sentative surveys and comparing generations (e.g., grandparents vs. parents vs. children) to exam ine secular trends. As expected, currently, children are taller and heavier than parent-aged individu als were at the same age and the prevalence of obesity increased compared with 30 years ago.
Nonetheless, during the past decade, body weight and obesity have decreased. Current children are less physically fit than their parents’ generation was at the same age. Additionally, school nurses and PE teachers are increasingly reporting lifestyle-related diseases, injuries of the head and face, frac tures, and decreasing muscle strength among school children.
Finally, we present a small-scale study of lifestyle and behavior patterns among hunter-gatherer children living in African tropical forests and discuss ways to prevent child obesity and improve chil dren’s physical fitness and health.
Essential trace elements (ETEs) are a couple of elements, whose abundance in the body is less than that of iron in human body, indispensable for human physiological function. Overview on the impacts of these elements on childʼs growth and development will be given. Elucidation of such impacts is not an easy task since so many factors other than ETEs, but often associated with ETEs, would affect the childʼs growth and development. Brief summary of the impacts by iron, zinc, copper, iodine, and selenium will be described, followed by a discussion on potential relationship between trace element nutritional status and globalization. Examining the issue of ETEs in global perspective has revealed the existence of deficiency in the past and might suggest reconsideration of the concept of nutritional requirement of ETEs.
Many developing countries are facing nutrition transition or rapid change in dietary intake and physical activity, which are caused by lifestyle transformations resulting from rapid urbanization and modernization. Consequently, these countries are experiencing increasing rates of overweight and obesity while undernutrition remains prevalent. This is often referred to as the double burden of malnutrition. In Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, the prevalence of overnutrition is growing rapidly. According to the latest health survey, 33% of adult women in the country are categorized as overweight or obese.
The present report describes the changes in physical growth and nutrition of children in Indonesia since 1990, a period of rapid socioeconomic change, using national statistics and data of a field survey of school-aged children in a rural village of West Java in 2001 and 2015. The survey included anthropometric measurements, food consumption surveys, and questionnaires on socioeconomic status.
The results showed increased height and weight and large variation in weight status (BMIZ), especially among boys, from 2001 to 2015. These findings were deemed to be mostly owing to socioeconomic changes, including in dietary habits. The prevalence of overweight/obese increased from 2.4% in 2001 to 13.7% in 2015, which was similar to the national trend.
Human growth is influenced by a number of factors. While recent studies reported an increase in body size around the world, improvement varies between countries and regions. There are many malnourished children and high infant mortality in the world, mainly due to energy and micronutrient deficiencies. At the same time, overweight children are increasing and together with undernutrition, the “Double burden of malnutrition” has been considered a global health problem. Recent studies suggested that prenatal nutritional status is one of the causes of this problem and based on the Developmental Origin of Health and Diseases (DOHaD) theory, a maternal nutrition has been considered important. In order to improve growth of children, international bodies including the United Nations are taking actions and showed some evidence of improvement. However, still more than 100 million children are suffering from stunting and underweight and overweight children is remain increasing. In 2015, the United Nations adopted a new development agenda that comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of goals to be achieved by 2030. It is hoped that these global actions improve living environment and nutritional status of the people in the world and lead to healthy growth and development of all children.