News / Health

Overweight Children a Rising Concern in Developing Countries

A photo of a partially-eaten McDonalds' Big Mac hamburger atop French fries, November 2, 2010.A photo of a partially-eaten McDonalds' Big Mac hamburger atop French fries, November 2, 2010.
x
A photo of a partially-eaten McDonalds' Big Mac hamburger atop French fries, November 2, 2010.
A photo of a partially-eaten McDonalds' Big Mac hamburger atop French fries, November 2, 2010.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jennifer Lazuta
— The World Health Organization (WHO) says the number of overweight and obese children in the developing world is climbing at an alarming rate and countries need to do more to deal with the associated health risks.  In Africa, the number of overweight or obese children has doubled in the past 20 years.  

WHO says that an estimated 43 million children worldwide under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2011.

Three-quarters of these children live in low- and middle-income countries, many on the African continent.

The terms overweight and obese refer to calculations of Body Mass Index, what doctors call BMI. They use people’s height, weight and age to assess their amount of body fat and then categorize them as underweight, normal, overweight or obese.

The WHO says being overweight or obese can lead to serious long-term health problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
 
The director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, Francesco Branca, says there are a number of reasons why people in the developing world are packing on the pounds.

“The food system is changing and people are consuming more and more food that is manufactured," said Branca. "And often the manufactured food has a high content of sugar, fat and salt. So this is leading to overconsumption of food. Of course, this is also part of a normal change in lifestyle, with increased urbanization and decreased physical activity, as part of less physical labor, more motorized transport. So there are several components.”

Experts say that not getting enough food or the right kinds of food remain a top concern in most of these countries, particularly for children.

Branca says successful policy initiatives, such as urging exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life and the distribution of vitamin and nutrient supplements, have helped to reduced rates of child malnutrition and stunting in recent years.

Now, he said, countries need to get proactive on childhood obesity.  

“There is progress in the understanding of this problem, but now we have to be very clear about what the policy gaps are and what the effective actions are… It’s about adequate food, but also the marketing of food to children," said Branca. "And about the balance with the producers who manufacture food that have an adequate quality, and also a reduced content of sugar, fat and salt. And actions on how to shape the availability of this food.”

Branca said stopping the explosion of overweight or obese children isn’t going to be easy.  Even developed countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom., haven’t been able to make much of a dent in their numbers.

The current goal set by the WHO's World Health Assembly is to at least keep the percentage of overweight children from going up any further between now and 2025.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid