Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Government-led efforts targeting eating habits of children needed to curb worldwide obesity epidemic, experts urge

Date:
August 25, 2011
Source:
Harvard School of Public Health
Summary:
The global obesity epidemic has been escalating for decades, yet long-term prevention efforts have barely begun and are inadequate, according to a new paper from international public health experts.

The global obesity epidemic has been escalating for decades, yet long-term prevention efforts have barely begun and are inadequate, according to a new paper from international public health experts published in the August 25, 2011 edition of the journal The Lancet. Noting that many countries lack basic population-wide data on children's weight and height, the authors call on governments around the world to launch a coordinated effort to monitor, prevent, and control obesity, and the long-term health, social and economic costs associated with it.

The paper is part of a special Lancet series on obesity.

"By imposing tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and limiting marketing of unhealthy foods to children, governments can lead in making it easier for children to make healthy choices," said lead author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Special taxes and marketing restrictions to discourage smoking have been effective in tobacco control and likely would be effective in reducing SSB consumption, the authors note. Consuming sugar-sweetened beverages increases risk of excess weight gain and obesity which can lead to a host of health problems, including type 2 diabetes -- and SSBs have no additional nutritional value beyond calories, Gortmaker and his colleagues say.

International organizations like the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and others must participate with the public and private sector to target children and adolescents, in particular, with these and other cost-effective strategies that encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity, the authors say.

In the last 30 years, obesity, defined as a body-mass index (BMI) of more than 30 in adults, has increased globally in both rich and poor countries and in all segments of society. (BMI is weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.) In a companion commentary, William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, writes that if U.S. trends based on historical data continue, obesity among U.S. adults will increase from its current level of approximately 32% to approximately 50% by 2030. The increased costs of treating obesity-associated diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, will reach $66 billion annually in the U.S. by 2030.

Obesity trends and physical activity need closer monitoring in all countries, including high-income countries. Most countries still need basic data: Only a third of European Union nations have representative data on children's weight and height. Few countries have set targets for obesity rates, changes in dietary intake, or physical activity. In addition, efforts taken by the food industry to reformulate products and undertake other measures to encourage healthier eating should be independently assessed for effectiveness, the authors say.

Gortmaker and his colleagues call for action at multiple levels of society. They provide a list of interventions aimed at children, adolescents, and adults that have been estimated to be cost-effective. In addition to taxes on unhealthy food and drink and restrictions on junk food and beverage TV advertising to children, the authors recommend school-based education and nutrition and physical activity programs for children and some weight loss interventions.

The Lancet Obesity Series precedes the first High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly focused on non-communicable disease prevention and control, set for September 19-20, 2011, in New York City. The authors said the meeting "is an important opportunity for the international community to provide the leadership, global standards, and cross-agency structures needed to create a global food system that offers a healthy and a secure food supply for all."

Support for the paper was provided by the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research, which coordinates childhood obesity research across the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the NIH, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Steven L. Gortmaker, Boyd A. Swinburn, David Levy, Rob Carter, Patricia L. Mabry, Diane T. Finegood, Terry Huang, Tim Marsh, Marjory L. Moodie. Changing the Future of Obesity: Science, Policy, and Action. The Lancet, 2011; 378 (9793): 838-847 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60815-5

Cite This Page:

Harvard School of Public Health. "Government-led efforts targeting eating habits of children needed to curb worldwide obesity epidemic, experts urge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825193107.htm>.
Harvard School of Public Health. (2011, August 25). Government-led efforts targeting eating habits of children needed to curb worldwide obesity epidemic, experts urge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825193107.htm
Harvard School of Public Health. "Government-led efforts targeting eating habits of children needed to curb worldwide obesity epidemic, experts urge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825193107.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins