Experts warn that obesity rates are rising as the government fails to tackle our diet of junk food and enticing junk food marketing
This is an edited version of an article first published by The Guardian.
Governments around the world are doing little to prevent obesity and to protect their children’s health, data finds. As a result, childhood obesity is rising exponentially worldwide as the relentless marketing of junk foods reaches around the globe.
Currently, around 150 million children are obese. This is set to rise to 250 million by 2030. Only one in 10 countries have a 50% chance of meeting the World Health Organization target of no rise in child obesity from 2010 to 2025.
According to the World Obesity Federation (WOF), the chances of 156 of the 191 countries studied achieving the target are less than 10%.
Children who are obese often become adults with obesity and are likely to develop serious health problems that will shorten their lives, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. the first Childhood Obesity Atlas.
Authors of WOF’s first Childhood Obesity Atlas warn that: ‘The continuing increase in childhood obesity will overwhelm the health services of many countries. The increase shows a critical failure of government to respect and protect our children’s rights to good health.’
Some countries have low levels of obesity but will not escape the global surge without drastic action. Other countries have moderate or high levels and are not doing enough to stem the tide.
There will be nearly 62 million obese children aged five to 19 in China by 2030, 27 million in India and 17 million in the US. Obesity is damaging the health prospects for rich and poor countries alike. The Democratic Republic of the Congo will have 2.4 million children with obesity, and Tanzania and Vietnam will have 2 million each.
Tim Lobstein, the federation’s policy director and one of the authors of the report, said: “What we are seeing is a rising tide that has not been addressed in the policy world sufficiently. We see statements from policymakers and some countries beginning to take it seriously. A bit like the climate crisis and global overheating, we see resistance to intervene in what are otherwise free markets in order to improve people’s and the planet’s health.”
“In many countries, the health services won’t cope,” said Lobstein. “There may be a certain fatigue in listening to these figures getting worse and worse – but doing nothing is going to cost an awful lot more than making serious interventions in the marketplace to reduce the global marketing of soft drinks and ultra-processed foods.”