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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid