GENEVA - Child and adolescent health experts around the world warn children’s health and future are endangered by climate change and harmful commercial marketing practices. Forty independent experts participated in a landmark report commissioned by the World Health Organization, U.N. Children’s Fund and the British medical journal, The Lancet.
A bleak report says no country is doing enough to protect children’s health from climate change, environmental degradation and exploitative commercial marketing tactics that are leading to a global epidemic of child obesity.
Scientists forecast the world will warm by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius in 10 years. The authors of the report warn children already are suffering from the emission of greenhouse gases, which is causing global warming.
Anthony Costello is professor of Global Health and Sustainability at University College London and a lead author of the report. He says people globally are suffering from extreme weather events, including drought, floods, heatwaves and the proliferation of diseases, such as malaria and dengue.
“The poorest countries are having a long way to go to let their children be healthy. But the wealthier countries are threatening the future of all children through these excessive carbon emissions, which will lead to the problems I discussed,” he said.
Costello cites damaging advertising targeted specifically at children and adolescents as another alarming global issue. He says the marketing of harmful products, such as sugary drinks, fast food, tobacco, alcohol, gaming and gambling is threatening the development and health of young people.
“We face a massive rise in child obesity, which will have long term, life long effects," he said. "We have seen a 10-fold increase in obesity since 1975 from 11 million children to 125 million children. We know that advertising preys on children. In some countries, they are seeing 30,000 TV ads a year.”
Costello warns the dangers posed by the huge expansion of social media advertising and algorithms aimed at children are even more alarming.
Authors of the report are calling for a stop to carbon dioxide emissions, so children have a future on this planet. They urge governments to invest in child health and to respect their rights. They say governments should listen to children’s voices when making policy decisions.
They are pressing for tighter national regulations of harmful commercial marketing and for them to be made an optional protocol in the Convention of the Rights of the Child.