Childhood obesity panel: 40 million kids under 5 overweight

Childhood obesity panel: 40 million kids under 5 overweight

Childhood obesity can have a direct negative effect on educational development, quite apart from posing economic hardship and physical and mental health consequences.

It said Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Botswana had the highest percentage of overweight children among African countries.

Despite the risks, progress in tackling childhood obesity has been slow and inconsistent, according to the report. The report also urged the promotion of physical activities with comprehensive programmes that reduced sedentary behaviours in children and adolescents.

"Increased political commitment is needed to tackle the global challenge of childhood overweight and obesity". In a news conference, commission cochair Peter Gluckman called childhood obesity "an exploding nightmare in the developing world".

"The WHO needs to work with governments to implement a wide range of measures that address the environmental causes of obesity and overweight, and help to give children the healthy start to life they deserve".

It warned that obesity "has the potential to negate numerous health benefits that have contributed to increased life expectancy".

It was also noted that any tax on sugar-sweetened drinks is likely to affect low-income families the most, and that these same low-incomes families who are at the highest risk of obesity.

The report points to children's environments, increasingly saturated with marking for unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages, driven by globalization and urbanization, as a major factor in increasing obesity around the world.

The number of unhealthily heavy children stood at 31 million in 1990, amounting to 4.8 per cent.

The report notes that "low physical activity is rapidly becoming the social norm in most countries".

The number of obese or overweight children under five doubled in the developing world from 7.5 million in 1990 to 15.5 million past year and nearly half of those children were in Asia.

A graphic showing a carrot and an apple. In addition to promoting breastfeeding for infants and promulgating guidelines for healthful eating, governments should implement an "effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages" to reduce their consumption by children and adolescents, the report says.

A graphic showing a football.

A graphic showing a woman preparing food.

A graphic showing a school building.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the greatest increase in obese children occurs in low- and middle-income countries.

Who alerted that obesity endemic could actually reverse the health gains of last decades. It also proposed restricted marketing of unhealthy food and drink and a standardised global nutrient labelling system that would be simple and understandable to all.

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