A report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) concludes that childhood obesity is reaching alarming proportions in many countries and poses an urgent and serious challenge.
The report says progress in tackling childhood obesity has been slow and inconsistent. This is evident in South Africa and in a growing number of African countries.
Historically, obesity was largely associated with developed countries. The situation has changed with the obesity crisis spreading fast into the developing world. The WHO has established that 65% of the world’s population live in a country where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. This includes all high-income and middle-income countries. Globally, 44% of diabetes, 23% of ischaemic heart disease and 7–41% of certain cancers are attributable to overweight and obesity.
The WHO reports notes that key factors in the fight against obesity are:
- Promote intake of healthy foods
- Promote physical activity
- Preconception and pregnancy care
- Early childhood diet and physical activity
- Health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children
- Weight management.
The report further notes that the Sustainable Development Goals, set by the United Nations in 2015, identify prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases as core priorities. “Among the noncommunicable disease risk factors, obesity is particularly concerning and has the potential to negate many of the health benefits that have contributed to increased life expectancy.”
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