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Childhood overweight and obesity

Happy children kids
Happy children kids
7th July 2016

(as reported by the World Health Organization)

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Globally, in 2013 the number of overweight children under the age of five was estimated to be over 42 million. Close to 31 million of these were living in developing countries.

Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable. Prevention of childhood obesity therefore needs high priority.

The most significant health consequences of childhood overweight and obesity, that often do not become apparent until adulthood, include cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke); diabetes; musculoskeletal disorders, especially osteoarthritis; and certain types of cancer (endometrial, breast and colon).

General recommendations:

  • Increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts
  • Limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats
  • Limit the intake of sugars
  • Be physically active - accumulate at least 60 minutes of regular, moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity each day that is developmentally appropriate.


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