It’s time to take the gloves off - WHO warning on child obesity

IT is a quirk of human nature that we so often struggle to stop doing things that have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing. It is an even more unfathomable quirk that many of us give our children habits around diet and inactivity that can be ruinous to their health.

Poor diet and a disinterest in the kind of activity that sustains health are often associated with poverty but figures published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest the crisis of childhood obesity knows no barriers. The WHO records that some 41m under-5s are obese or overweight, up from 31m in 1990. This trend shows an almost lemming-like disregard for the consequences of obesity.

The WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity warned that rates could rise and urged immediate action, including “effective taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages” and policies to foster good diet, physical activity, and better food labelling. Just last week Britain’s NHS announced plans to impose a levy on sweets and high-sugar drinks sold in hospitals. Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he would look favourably on any such proposals here.

The WHO acknowledged that a two-year-old cannot be criticised for being fat, lazy, or eating too much — those are learnt experiences and are destroying children’s health and imposing unsustainable costs on health services.

Time to take the gloves off over sugar.


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