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Obesity in Children Increased Dramatically, WHO Seeks Political Commitment In Tackling The Issue

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January 29
5:36 AM 2016

Obesity in children has increased dramatically over the past two decades and is expected to be doubled in the next 10 years. A recent report "The Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO)" from World Health Organisation (WHO) has noted that there is an alarming increase in childhood obesity among children aged 5 and below worldwide. The number of overweight and obese children under five has risen from 31 million in 1990 to 41 million till 2014.

According to the statistics published by WHO, 6.1 percent of under-five children were either obese or overweight around 2014 while the percentage back in 1990 was just 4.8. The graph seems to have hit the peak among the middle-income countries where the figure doubled from 7.5 million to 15.5 million, according to Guardian.

"Overweight and obesity impact on a child's quality of life, as they face a wide range of barriers, including physical, psychological and health consequences," said ECHO's co-chair, Dr Sania Nishtar.

"We know that obesity can impact on educational attainment too and this, combined with the likelihood that they will remain obese into adulthood, poses major health and economic consequences for them, their families and society as a whole," Nishtar added, noted WHO report.

While it is reported that countries in the middle-income group contributed much towards increasing childhood obesity, about 48 percent belonged to Asia and Africa and 25 percent in Africa alone, reported Los Angeles Times.

Sir Peter Gluckman, fellow Commission co-chair noted that there is a big time need for political commitment in handling this issue. He also noted that WHO has to work with governments of the countries to implement various measures in order for improving the environmental conditions related to obesity and overweight in under-five children. Gluckman also explained that the children are not at fault of over or unhealthy eating as well as lack of physical activity.

"The behavioural and biological responses of a child to the obesogenic environment can be shaped by processes even before birth, placing an even greater number of children on the pathway to becoming obese when faced with an unhealthy diet and low physical activity," noted the Commission, reported .

ECHO also recommended six main implementations for governments including promotion of healthy food intake in children and adults and reducing sweetened beverages and unhealthy foods. Encouraging physical activities among children, preconception and pregnancy care for women and providing guidance on diet, sleep habits and physical activities for young children and programmes promoting nutrition and physical activities are some of the other recommendations.

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