Friday 20 November from 15:00 – 16:30 CET
Millions of children worldwide are eating too much unhealthy food and not getting enough physical activity, leading to a rapid rise in childhood overweight and obesity. Once considered a problem limited to high-income countries, middle income countries now account for over three quarters of all children under 5 affected by overweight. Called “a ticking time bomb” by the World Bank, 1 in 5 children between 5 to 19 years of age is affected by overweight, and the issue is impacting a broader cross-section of the population including urban, rural and poor communities, often co-existing with various forms of undernutrition. Overweight and obesity disadvantage children, can result in stigma and can lead to a lifetime of diseases, including increased risks for some of the world’s biggest killers such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. For countries this translates into a population that is less healthy and less productive, and results in health systems overburdened with soaring costs for what are largely preventable diseases.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the very real health risks that people living with obesity can face, and – wherever possible – the best option is early prevention, in particular optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices. In addition, the obesogenic environments that are driving the rapid rise in overweight and obesity are increasingly recognized as a threat to children’s rights, which adds urgency to the need for action.
To mark the occasion of World Children’s Day, UNICEF and WHO will join forces to restate the global importance of childhood overweight prevention and efforts to create enabling environments that promote and protect healthy weight in childhood. Such environments ensure access to affordable nutritious foods and healthy diets and promote physical activity.
The webinar will showcase examples of the common challenges many countries, caregivers and children across the world are facing in relation to childhood overweight and obesity; at the same time it will offer a platform to share some of the lessons learned in overcoming these challenges through progressive policies and double duty interventions that address both undernutrition and overweight simultaneously. Against the difficult backdrop of the COVID-19 response, speakers will be encouraged to reflect on whether we need to reimagine the response to childhood overweight and obesity moving forward.