Written by Julie Hentz
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls childhood obesity, “one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21stcentury.”

WHO states that the problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban areas. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate, globally affecting over 42 million children, the largest percent of whom love in developing countries. Prevention of childhood obesity is a high priority for WHO.

The WHO definition of prevalence of overweight for children is one standard deviation body mass index for age and sex, and for obese, two standard deviations body mass index for age and sex.

To address this pressing need, the WHO formed the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. The Eastern Mediterranean Region of the Commission met on July 2, 2015 in Cairo, Egypt for a one-day consultation. Nine member states were represented by national program managers for nutrition, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and education. Regional Commissioners were also participating as were NGOs. The day’s work centered around six questions in the current Interim Report, where Member States addressed the questions in the areas of policy options, implementation and monitoring and accountability.

Plans were discussed to integrate obesity care into primary health care, preconception given the pressing refugee and economic situations in many countries. There is much interest in moving forward with the proposed policy options with some countries formulating plans with specific targets to tackle childhood obesity.
These efforts will move the WHO to support improved nutritional guidelines, practice and policy as it is known that:

  • Healthy nutrition strengthens the learning potential and well-being of children and adolescents.
  • Healthy nutrition contributes to decreasing the risk of today’s leading health problems in children and adolescents (including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and eating disorders).
  • Healthy nutrition in early life enables healthy adulthood and ageing.

A draft final report of the results of the July 2nd will be available for comment in August.  Participants were encouraged to submit written comments online.

Quotes from WHO on Childhood Overweight and Obesity, http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/

The Interim Report on Ending Childhood Obesity, http://www.who.int/end-childhood-obesity/commission-ending-childhood-obesity-interim-report.pdf?ua=1


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