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Increasing childhood obesity ‘will overwhelm’ health services

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Increasing childhood obesity worldwide Over 250 million children in the world will be living with obesity by 2030

Over 250 million children in the world will be living with obesity by 2030 according to the first Atlas of Childhood Obesity.

This report was compiled by the World Obesity Federation (WOF) and provides estimates and predictions about childhood obesity across 191 countries. The UK is predicted to have over 1 million children living with obesity by 2030.

The report assembles information from a number of sources, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF. Alongside statistics about childhood obesity in each country, the report also highlights whether or not countries currently have policies related to reducing obesity, such as those aimed at reducing physical inactivity or an unhealthy diet.

‘What we are seeing is a rising tide that has not been addressed in the policy world sufficiently,’ said Tim Lobstein, WOF policy director and one of the authors of the report. ‘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 2014, WHO released a policy that outlined a global target of no increase in childhood obesity by 2025. The UK was given a 39% chance of meeting this target. The majority (81%) of countries assessed had less than a 10% chance.

‘Obesity in childhood is closely associated with obesity in adulthood,’ say Donna Ryan, President of WOF, and Johanna Ralston, Chief Executive. ‘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. We can do better, and we must’.

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