Health August 31, 2023 | 11:33 am

Alarm due to the increase in childhood overweight and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean

Santo Domingo.- UNICEF has raised concern over the rising prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean, which surpasses the global average. The organization has urged countries in the region to prioritize the prevention of this condition as a national public health goal.

In children under 5 years old, overweight prevalence increased from 6.8% (3.9 million people) in 2000 to 8.6% (4.2 million) in 2022. For children and adolescents aged 5 to 19, the prevalence of overweight rose from 21.5% (35 million people) in 2000 to 30.6% (49 million) in 2016. This alarming trend is attributed to obesogenic food environments that promote consumption of unhealthy products high in sugar, fat, and salt, as well as limited physical activity.

Overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence can lead to non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular issues, hypertension, cancer, and a shorter life expectancy. UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Garry Conille, emphasized the need to prioritize the health and well-being of children and adolescents.

UNICEF called for countries to declare the prevention of childhood overweight as a national public health priority, involving key stakeholders such as the public sector, academia, civil society, and the private sector.

The organization also stressed the importance of analyzing the causes of childhood overweight on a country-by-country basis and implementing evidence-based interventions that prioritize children’s rights. Increased public investment and resource allocation for prevention efforts, including surveillance and monitoring systems, are also recommended.

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