A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveals that overweight affects 1 in 10 children worldwide.
The report, "Obesity in children and young people: A crisis in public health", has been issued by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) of the WHO in co-operation with the Iternational Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) in May 2004.
Around 30-45 million within that figure are classified as obese - accounting for 2-3% of the world’s children aged 5-17.
A further 22 million younger children are also affected according to previous IOTF global estimates based on WHO data for under fives.
The report identifies examples of problematic social trends:
Increase in use of motorized transport, e.g. to school.
Fall in opportunities for recreational physical activity.
Increased sedentary recreation.
Multiple TV channels around the clock.
Greater quantities and variety of energy dense foods available.
Rising levels of promotion and marketing of energy-dense foods.
More frequent and widespread food purchasing opportunities.
More use of restaurants and fast food stores.
Larger portions of food offering better ‘value’ for money.
Increased frequency of eating occasions.
Rising use of soft drinks to replace water, e.g. in schools.
Stronger policies are needed to:
provide clear and consistent consumer information, e.g. on food labels;
encourage food companies to provide lower energy, more nutritious foods marketed for children;
develop criteria for advertising that promotes healthier eating;
improve maternal nutrition and encourage breast-feeding of infants;
design secure play facilities and safe local neighbourhoods;
encourage schools to enact coherent food, nutrition and physical activity policies;
encourage medical and health professionals to participate in the development of public health programmes.
The report is available upon request from the IOTF.
More information on childhood obesity and the work of the IOTF.