News / Health

WHO: Epidemics of Underweight and Overweight Growing

21-month-old Sushila, who weighs 4.5 kg and suffers from severe malnutrition, sits in her mother's lap in Kirwara village of Sheopur district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, April 2010 (file photo)
21-month-old Sushila, who weighs 4.5 kg and suffers from severe malnutrition, sits in her mother's lap in Kirwara village of Sheopur district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, April 2010 (file photo)
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for action to fight all forms of malnutrition, including under-nutrition and obesity, which affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. More than 60 world nutrition experts are meeting at WHO headquarters this week to revise guidelines and to identify solutions to tackle this growing problem.

WHO says malnutrition globally accounts for 11 percent of all diseases and causes long-term poor health and disability. It says malnutrition causes stunted growth and wasting (being extremely thin) in nearly 300 million children.

It says nearly 4 million children die each year from nutritional risks, including underweight, and vitamin and mineral deficiency, particularly of vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc.

While lack of food can lead to serious health problems, too much food can have the same affect. WHO’s Director of Nutrition for Health and Development, Francesco Branca, says 43 million children under age five are overweight.

"We are seeing that often we have in the same countries, at the same time, the presence of under-nutrition and overweight. We are seeing that this increase in overweight is becoming, in fact, a problem in developing countries. We have the greatest increase in overweight in Africa, particularly North Africa, and we now can say that perhaps the proportion of the number of children who are overweight is actually larger in developing countries than in developed countries," said Branca.

The World Health Organization reports about one-third of the 1.5 billion overweight people in the world are obese. It says 35 million of the 43 million overweight children are in developing countries. The largest numbers are in Asia, but it notes the fastest growth rates are in Africa.

WHO says today’s children are becoming overweight because they are more sedentary than in the past. Simply put, they are eating more than they need.

It says the highly refined, processed high-energy density food available in rich countries also is widely available in poor countries. And, these foods are high in sugar and fat content.

Professor of nutrition at Cornell University, Rebecca Stoltzfus, said the overweight and obesity epidemics are now present in every country in the world. She said the conditions of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and being overweight and obese, are related in multiple ways.

"The kinds of diets that lead children to become overweight - the high sugar, high fat diets - tend to be relatively low in essential vitamins and minerals. But, secondly, there is evidence emerging that the condition of overweight or obesity also changes one’s metabolism of key minerals, such as iron, so that obese individuals do not absorb and metabolize iron normally," said Stoltzfus.

Stoltzfus said underweight in women and children is responsible for more premature deaths and disability than any other preventable risk factor - more than unsafe sex, more than tobacco use and more than overweight.

WHO says child overweight and obesity, though, also can lead to serious health consequences, including early onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs