Obesity remains a big concern

By Confidente Reporter

THE secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) António Guterres has raised concern over an increase of people with obesity.

Guterres said this in a media statement issued last week on World Digestive Health Day that is celebrated every May 29.

According to Guterres obesity among young people aged five to19 years has increased tremendously from four percent to 18 percent in the last four decades and Africa is no exception to this, as obesity has become a big concern in the developing world.

“The world is experiencing a growing pandemic of obesity.  It affects people of all ages in all regions. Particularly concerning are the young people affected.  In the pastfour decades, the percentage of five to 19-year-olds who were overweight or obese increased more than four-fold, from four percent to 18 percent.  Globally, more than four million people die each year due to overweight or obesity.

“Once considered a problem of high-income countries, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30 per cent higher than that of developed countries,” said Guterres.

To make matters worse, Covid-19 pandemic has now become a problematic issue in fighting obesity especially in the developing world that is struggling to access Covid vaccines.

The pandemic has further highlighted how obesity is a threat to health, as obese patients have four times the risk of developing the most severe consequences of Covid-19.The World Health Assembly has established targets to curb obesity in children, adolescents and adults by 2025. At current rates of progress, none of these targets is likely to be met, yet obesity and its associated health problems can be curbed.

Guterres has therefore said that there will be a UN Food Systems Summit later this year to address issues of obesity.

“First, we need better prevention, starting with good nutrition during pregnancy, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for the first two years and beyond. “Second, we need policies and investments that make it easier to access healthy and nutritious food – something that should be addressed at the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit.

“Third, people who are overweight or obese need better care in the primary healthcare system. Let us commit to work together to address obesity for a sustainable and healthy world,” said Guterres.