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Wed Jun 29 02:03:54 SAST 2016

Childhood obesity 'an exploding nightmare'

AFP | 26 January, 2016 00:13
Child obesity "is an exploding nightmare in the developing world", Gluckman said. File photo
Image by: Thinkstock

Childhood obesity has reached alarming rates globally and become an "exploding nightmare" in the developing world, including Africa, where the number of obese and overweight children under five has nearly doubled since 1990, a World Health Organisation commission said yesterday.

The authors of the report for the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity stressed that the epidemic had not been treated as a public health issue and is regarded by some as a product of lifestyle choices by individuals and families.

But, after two years of research in more than 100 countries, the report's authors said governments and global public health bodies were central to reversing the scourge.

"What's the big message? It's not the kids' fault," commission co-chairman Peter Gluckman said.

Biological factors, inadequate access to healthy foods, a decline in physical activity in schools and the marketing of fattening foods are among the drivers of an epidemic that requires a co-ordinated global response.

Child obesity "is an exploding nightmare in the developing world", Gluckman said. The figures have surged in Africa, where the number of overweight or obese children under five has nearly doubled between 1990 and 2014, from 5.4million to 10.3million.

"Dieting and exercise alone are not the solution," he said.

"We have a responsibility to stop the world's children from being obese."

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