With UN collaborations, partnerships, no-state actors and others, the WHO’s (World Health Organization) main areas of work are creating and supporting health systems, promoting health through life-course, investigating communicable and no communicable diseases, among many other since April 7th, 1948, so it’s only logical to recognize their expertise in health matters.

The organization has childhood obesity as one of the most serious public challenges of the 21st century and states that the problem is more notorious in middle and low-income countries, especially in urban areas. Globally, in 2013, the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 42 million. Close to 31 million of these are living in developing countries.

The WHO has childhood obesity as one of the most serious public challenges of the 21st century. Credit: Huffington Post

The WHO offers in its website different guidelines to identify overweight. Since creating a universal formula would be impossible, they have made available a simple but rather informative database on how to spot the problem depending on the age of the individual.

The exponential growth of the disease creates a grim scenario for future generations. Overweight kids and teens tend to continue being overweight in their adult lives which make them vulnerable to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems and some types of cancer. At least 2.6 million people die every year from overweight or obesity-related diseases.

The population boom has forced effective ways to satisfy food demands and the market is full with high energy, full of sugar and fat saturated options. If we add to this that the trending lifestyle is a very sedentary one, we are left with generations of people that are consuming much more calories than they are actually using. The average consumer does not know what his body needs in order to function properly.

The WHO encourages a nutrition full of vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Limiting energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats; and being physically active with at least 60 minutes of moderate, regular and vigorous exercise.

“Measures with teeth” was the term used by Margaret Chan, WHO’s director, who says that the commission on ending childhood obesity found out that a sugar tax could be the beginning of the solution. She also criticized the fact that junk food marketing and advertisements of unhealthy products are always present in children’s TV.

Sources: The Times