News / Health

Childhood Obesity Weighs on WHO

FILE - The World Health Organization is developing recommendations to curb excessive weight in children.
FILE - The World Health Organization is developing recommendations to curb excessive weight in children.
Lisa Schlein

If current trends continue, the World Health Organization warns there will be 70 million obese children globally by 2025. 

WHO reports the number of overweight or obese infants and children has increased from 31 million globally in 1990 to 44 million in 2012. Over the same period, it says the number of obese children in Africa alone has risen from four to 10 million.

Peter David Gluckman co-chairs the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, established by WHO’s director-general, Margaret Chan. Chief science adviser to New Zealand’s prime minister, Gluckman said obese children will grow up to become obese adults, who will suffer from diabetes, heart disease, high rates of cancer and other health problems.

People have to understand that children are not little adults, he said. Therefore, tackling obesity among this group will involve a strategy different from that employed among adults.

There are two main ways to intervene in childhood obesity, Gluckman says that “they go together.”

“It is about optimizing the health of mothers, of women, of girls before they get pregnant. Optimizing the conditions of pregnancy. Promoting good breast feeding and weaning behaviors, much of which has been lost, particularly in Western countries,” he said.

“At the same time, you have got to worry about obesity in the environment, reinforce and making sure that there are a number of things that you can do to promote healthy eating and diet in young people,” Gluckman said. 

At one time, communicable or infectious diseases were considered the major threat in developing countries.  But, now non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, diabetes and cancer are emerging as major challenges. 

They are linked to four life-style risk factors, including unhealthy diet, little physical activity and the harmful use of alcohol and tobacco.

A growing problem for future

All these factors contribute to the growing obesity crisis, Gluckman said, emphasizing that what happens in early life determines what happens later in life.

He noted huge problems of obesity in the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean and Middle East.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa also are at risk, Gluckman said, “countries like Nigeria, Ghana and so forth.  We are seeing the co-existence of malnutrition on one hand and obesity on the other hand.  And, we are seeing numbers that are really quite astounding, particularly in the urban environment.  Children now are living in environments with the lots of use of cooking oil, of fried foods and so forth.  It is changing quite rapidly.” 

The 15-member commission is composed of social scientists, public health specialists, clinical scientists and economists. It will examine evidence on prevention of childhood obesity and how to reverse it in overweight children. The members will work out a monitoring scheme to see whether their efforts to turn the epidemic around are bearing fruit. 

The commission will deliver its report to the WHO director general next year. The World Health Assembly in May will subsequently discuss the recommendations. 

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Julianna Olson from: USA
July 22, 2014 7:19 PM
In the US the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is doing some great work at tackeling this issues. Their programs reach out to community, school, health care providers, and families. Programs that might be worth replicating outside of the US www.healthiergeneration.org


by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
July 21, 2014 2:13 PM
action to raise awareness about the precautions of chidhood obesity in development countries

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid