Burden of childhood obesity

4 February 2015 14:27 (UTC+04:00)

By Nigar Orujova

Obesity among infants, children and adolescents has reached a dangerous level across the globe, the World Health Organization warned at its 136th session.

The event held in Geneva on January 26-February 3 was attended by Azerbaijan’s Minister of Health Ogtay Shiraliyev.

The session’s agenda included the WHO reform, presentation of the concept "European Health - 2020", measures to combat non-communicable diseases, health priorities in Europe, cooperation with international organizations, nutrition of mothers, infants and young children, etc.

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.

Over the last 20 years, the number of children suffering from overweight and obesity increased from four to ten million only in the African continent.

This indicator amounted to 31 million children in the world in 1990. Last year it reached 42 million.

Experts say obesity in children causes premature development of serious diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Obesity also affects health and well-being of children in long-term. Obese children and adolescents are likely to be overweight as adults and are therefore more at risk of adult health problems.

According to WHO, the problem is a global one steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.

The issue is also acute in Azerbaijan, where children eat as much as their mothers. Meanwhile, about one third of women in Azerbaijan have excess weight suffering from obesity, a recent investigation showed.

Earlier, dietician Leman Suleymanova said obesity in women is the result of their nutrition. “Most often, it all starts with the pregnancy, where proper nutrition affects not only the woman but also the child.”

She stressed that the child should eat properly. “Parents buy children junk food. A child is not restricted in terms of food intake and eats as much as his or her mom eats. You can see this in the cafes. A child must have its own menu and food limitation. Obesity begins in adolescence.”

Preventive actions are very simple and include healthy eating, consumption of fruits and vegetables, physical activity and limitation of energy and sugar intake.

Of course, it is easier to fight overweight in childhood rather than to deal with this problem later. Adopting a healthy lifestyle in childhood is significant for growing up a sound generation.

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Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar

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