UN Report: Government Action Required to Stop Rising Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is quickly getting out of hand – a UN report indicates. The shocking report has indicated that, in the next 10 years, there will be 70 million overweight children. The current figure stands at a 42 million.
The report by the UN went on to recommend that governments work on reversing the trend by advocating the consumption of healthy foods and increased physical activity among children as soon as possible.
The report is based on two years of work, and it calls for greater political intervention in the increasingly desperate fight against childhood obesity. But governments needn't be alone in this important fight, they should work hand in hand with UN's World Health Organization (WHO) to reverse the worrying trend.
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About 48% of all overweight and obese children under 5 years of age are in Asia. A quarter are found in Africa, where the number of overweight children under 5 years has increased from 5.4 million in 1990 to 10.3 today.
In total, the report made six recommendations, which were:
Promotion of healthy eating and the reduction of consumption of unhealthy foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages by children and adolescents. This goal could be achieved by increasing taxes on sugar-sweetened foods and exercising greater control over the marketing of unhealthy foods.
Secondly, physical activity also needs to be promoted among children. This intervention should curb the increasing levels of sedentary behavior among children.
The other recommendation made was that stakeholders should work to improve preconception and pregnancy care, which should reduce the risk of childhood obesity because it can prevent low or high birth weight, premature births, and other complications related to pregnancy.
The report also recommended that physical activity and proper diet be promoted early in the child's life. The process would entail promoting breastfeeding, reducing eating of foods high in sugar, salt, and fats; and raising children in environments that promote physical activity.
Another recommendation was that there needed to be high quality standards in the school feeding programs to engender healthy nutrition. The sale of unhealthy foods and drinks in schools also needs to be stopped, and better physical education should become a primary component of the curriculum.
The final recommendation was that partners should work to provide weight management solutions to obese children and young people. Such programs also need to be tailored to family settings and touch on a multiplicity of issues and target broad and sustainable lifestyle changes.
ECHO co-chair, Sania Nishtar, said that childhood obesity has a far-reaching impact on a child's life. Obese or overweight children have physical and psychological issues, and are usually exposed to a host of dangerous health problems.
The educational abilities of these children are also affected considerably, compounding the problems that they, their families, and the society will face as they turn into overweight or obese adults.
For the fight against childhood obesity to succeed, WHO needs to work with NGO's, the private sector, and governments in order to improve the visibility of the problem.