Number of overweight kids under five alarming and expected to double in 10 years

WHO calls for increased focus on healthy diets and physical activity to reverse the trend.

Calling the issue alarming, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a report saying there are over 41 million children under the age of five in the world who are overweight, and the organization expects the number to double to over 70 million by the end of the next decade.

A report on UPI says the WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity is calling on governments around the world to make an effort to reverse the trend.  The commission points out the largest increases since 1990 are in low-and middle-income countries.

Peter Gluckman, co-chair of the commission said in a press release, “Increased political commitment is needed to tackle the global challenge of childhood overweight and obesity.  WHO needs to work with governments to implement a wide range of measures that address the environmental causes of obesity and overweight, and help give children the healthy start to life they deserve.”

Even on the continent of Africa, where many are starving, the count of overweight children has actually doubled since 1990, to 10.3 million reported in 2014.  That number represents one-quarter of all overweight and obese children around the globe.  The commission’s report states that in 1990, there were 31 million overweight children worldwide, and the number has increased to 41 million by 2014.  The agency says 6.1 percent of all children are overweight or obese.

The children’s environment is to blame for the condition, according to the report, with marketing for unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages being the major contributor.  The commission also listed urbanization of populations as a factor as well.

Included in the report was the commission’s recommendations for reversing the growing trend of obese children, amounting to six primary areas of focus.  They include promotion of the intake of healthier foods, increases in physical activity, better preconception and prenatal care, and improvements in early childhood diets and physical activities.  The report also called for improvements in the health, nutrition and physical activity for children of school age, and a greater focus on weight management.

Sania Nishtar, co-chair of the commission said in a release being overweight or obese had an impact on a child’s quality of life, and can impact educational achievements as well, adding those who are overweight as a child likely will remain obese into adulthood.

The commission’s report can be viewed here.

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