Childhood obesity rates set to soar unless governments intervene immediately: WHO and Australia’s National Heart Foundation

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 1st February 2016

SugarA new World Health Organisation (WHO) report is predicting that the global number of obese children could rise from 41 million to 70 million over the next decade unless governments intervene.


The ‘Ending Childhood Obesity Report’ said the alarming rates are in part caused by heavy junk food advertising and a lack of physical exercise. It recommends governments across the globe address these issues with taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages and by curbing the marketing of unhealthy foods.


National Heart Foundation’s plea to Federal Government


Australia’s National Heart Foundation has thrown its support behind the report’s recommendations with its CEO Professor Garry Jennings saying governments need to act now.


“Governments are failing in their obligation to help provide the healthy start to life every child deserves,” Professor Jennings said.


“While we cannot ignore the global nature of the childhood obesity epidemic, tackling the problem must begin in our own backyard,” he said.


“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.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,” Professor Jennings stated.


How the National Heart Foundation wants to tackle obesity


With the release of the new WHO report The Heart Foundation has re-outlined its recommendations for a comprehensive national obesity prevention strategy:


  • Exploring a ‘health levy’ on sugar sweetened beverages
  • Opposing the marketing of junk food to children on social media and outlawing advertising of these products during TV programs popular with children, including sports broadcasts
  • Renewing and strengthening the national food reformulation program to reduce excessive sugar, fat and salts in processed food.
  • Moving as quickly as possible to make the new health food stars rating system compulsory for packaged food products