Taking action on childhood obesity report
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious global public health challenges of the 21st century, affecting every country in the world. In just 40 years the number of school-age children and adolescents with obesity has risen more than 10-fold, from 11 million to 124 million (2016 estimates). In addition, an estimated 216 million were classified as overweight but not obese in 2016.
The condition also affects younger children, with over 38 million children aged under 5 living with overweight or obesity in 2017.
In response, all countries have agreed a set of global targets for halting the increase in obesity. This includes no increase in overweight among children under age 5, school-age children or adolescents by 2025 (from 2010 levels). Action to reverse the epidemic is the focus of the recommendations made by the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity and is one of the main objectives of the Decade of Action on Nutrition.
The epidemic has been growing most rapidly in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Northern and Southern Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands. Although most countries are still off-track to meet the 2025 targets, many are taking action and some have achieved a levelling-off in childhood obesity rates. Investing in children’s health will help meet the global health targets and substantially reduce the predicted health and economic costs of obesity. This report illustrates the progress being made, with examples of actions at national level.