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One in Eight People Living with Obesity-Study

A new study released by the Lancet shows that more than one billion people in the world are now living with obesity. Worldwide, obesity among adults has more than doubled since 1990, and has quadrupled among children and adolescents aged five to nineteen. 

The data also show that 43% of adults were overweight in 2022.  The study also shows that even though the rates of undernutrition have dropped, it is still a public health challenge in many places, particularly in South-East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to a statement published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) alongside the report, countries with the highest combined rates of underweight and obesity in 2022 were island nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean and those in the Middle East and North Africa.   

Commenting about this study, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said curbing obesity will take the work of governments and communities, supported by evidence-based policies from WHO and national public health agencies. He also called for the cooperation of the private sector saying that they must be accountable for the health impacts of their products and abide by regulations on the harmful marketing of food and beverages to children. 

This new study highlights the importance of preventing and managing obesity from early life to adulthood, through diet, physical activity, and adequate care, as needed and one of the interventions suggested to countries is having school food and nutrition policies, including initiatives to regulate the sales of products high in fats, sugars, and salt in the proximity of schools.  

However, while obesity is a complex chronic disease whose causes are well understood, as are the interventions needed to contain the crisis, they are generally not implemented. “There are significant challenges in implementing policies aimed at ensuring affordable access to healthy diets for all and creating environments that promote physical activity and overall healthy lifestyles for everyone,” stated Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Nutrition and Food Safety Department and one of the co-authors of the study.

“Countries should also ensure that health systems integrate the prevention and management of obesity into the basic package of services.”  Experts highlight that addressing undernutrition requires multi-sectoral action in agriculture, social protection, and health, to reduce food insecurity, improve access to clean water and sanitation, and ensure universal access to essential nutrition interventions.   

Undernutrition is responsible for half of the deaths of children under 5 and obesity can cause Non- Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and some cancers. Many countries are seeing an increase in these diseases.

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