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Obesity Day: Child, adult cases rising – WHO

By Our Correspondent

To mark this year’s World Obesity Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday warned that the “population of obese children and adolescents worldwide has risen 10-fold in the past four decades and has become a global health crisis that threatens to worsen unless drastic actions are taken.”
This was contained in the organisation and Imperial College, London’s latest study on childhood and adolescent obesity worldwide published in the medical journal, The Lancet.
The Day is observed globally on October 11, with the view of promoting practical solutions to end the global obesity crisis.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Treat Obesity Now and Avoid the Consequences Later.”
It analysed weight and height measurements from nearly 130 million people aged over five years, including 31.5 million aged five to 19 and 97.4 million aged 20 and older, making it the largest ever number of participants involved in an epidemiological study.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 contributors participated in the study which looked at body mass index and how obesity has changed worldwide from 1975 to 2016.
The figures show that the obesity rates in the world’s children and adolescents increased from five million girls and six million boys, in 1975 to 50 million and 74 million in 2016.
“These worrying trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe,” said Prof. Majid Ezzati from the School of Public Health at Imperial College, London, who was the study’s lead author.
“Healthy nutritious foods are becoming too expensive for poor families and communities, he continued, urging for more availability at home and school of these kind of foods, especially in poor families and communities.”
Ezzati also advised that regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods roll out, or a future generation of children and adolescents growing up obese will be at greater risk of diseases, like diabetes.
The study predicts that if the trends continue, by 2020 the global level of child and adolescent obesity will surpass those for moderately and severely underweight youth from the same age group.
“These data highlight, remind and reinforce that overweight and obesity is a global health crisis today, and threatens to worsen in coming years unless we start taking drastic action,” said Dr. Fiona Bull, programme coordinator for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases at the WHO.
As part of the solutions, the WHO released a summary of the Ending Childhood Obesity Implementation Plan, offering countries clear guidance to curb childhood and adolescent obesity.
Topping the WHO guidance are promoting intake of healthy foods and physical activity, followed by preconception and pregnancy care, early childhood diet and physical activity, health and nutrition for school-age children, and weight management.
Particularly, Bull said, countries should aim to “reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods.”
Bull also said countries should reduce “the time children spend on screen-based and sedentary leisure activities by promoting greater participation in physical activity through active recreation and sports.”

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