DISTURBING new figures released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have revealed that the global rates of childhood obesity could rise from 41 million children affected to 70 million in the next decade unless urgent government intervention is taken.
The report commissioned by the WHO, Ending Childhood Obesity, said the alarming rates are in part the cause of unhealthy food and beverage marketing saturating children’s environments and a decrease in physical activity.
Echoing long-held National Heart Foundation demands, the report recommends government promote healthy diets by means of “effective taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages and curbing the marketing of unhealthy foods”.
National Heart Foundation CEO, Prof. Garry Jennings AO said the shocking findings should undoubtedly increase the pressure on government to act now and issue its own strategy for tackling obesity in Australia.
“Governments are failing in their obligation to help provide the healthy start to life every child deserves,” Prof Jennings said.
“While we cannot ignore the global nature of the childhood obesity epidemic, tackling the problem must begin in our own backyard.”
“For the first time in history, the number of Australian children aged 5–17 years old classified as either overweight or obese exceeded 1 million in 2014–15[#_ftn1].
“The Australian Government has a real opportunity to be a leader in curbing this global epidemic by implementing local strategies that have real impact, but instead it continues to shy away from the problem all together,” he said.
“We have been face-to-face with the reality of the problem for a long time and no-one can deny that action is needed – and needed now.
“Preventing weight gain in our younger generations today by encouraging parents and children to make healthy food choices and move more and sit less is fundamental to our collective health tomorrow.”
There is no single intervention that will halt the childhood obesity epidemic, instead cooperation on both a local and global level is the key.
It is important the government engage constructively with the entities that directly or indirectly contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic, such as the food and beverage industry, retailers, and other governments, to encourage the implementation of policies designed specifically to tackle this mounting problem.
The Heart Foundation continues to call on the Government to develop and implement a comprehensive national obesity prevention strategy and National Physical Activity Action Plan as measures to curb Australia’s growing obesity crisis.
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.