Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Qatar Ranked Sixth in ‘Obesity Prevalence’

Qatar ranks sixth globally for prevalence of obesity and has the highest rate of obesity among boys in the region, International Association for the Study of Obesity statistics shows.

Making a presentation on ‘Children, Media and the Childhood Obesity Crisis’ at the Northwestern University in Qatar’s new lecture series, Communication, Psychology as well as Human Development and Social Policy professor Ellen Wartella said worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980 and in 2008, 1.5bn adults, 20 years and older, were overweight (200mn men and 300mn women).

“65% of the world’s population lives in countries where problems associated with being overweight and obesity kill more people than being underweight and nearly 43mn children under the age of five were overweight in 2010,” she mentioned.

 “According to World Health Organisation statistics in 2010: 73% of men and 70.2% of women were deemed overweight and 31.3% of men and 38.1% of women considered obese. There are predictions that in five years, 69% of men and 73% of women worldwide will qualify as obese,” she noted.    
She mentioned that currently over two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are either overweight or obese.

“Over the past 30 years, rate of obesity has doubled for two to five-year-olds and adolescents and more than tripled for children six-11 years. At present, more than 9mn children over six are considered obese and more than 23mn or about one-third is overweight,” she stated.

She also disclosed that recent surveys show that childhood obesity has become parents number one health concern—more than smoking and drug abuse—and that parents consider “junk food” part  of the problem.

However, she suggested that to prevent childhood obesity by 2016, foods most heavily marketed to children should meet two basic nutritional principles of providing meaningful contribution to a healthy diet and minimizing nutrients with negative impact on health.

“Food having children as target such as breakfast cereals, snack foods, candy, dairy products, baked goods, carbonated beverages, fruit juice and non-carbonated beverages; prepared foods and meals, frozen and chilled desserts; and restaurant foods, should meet nutritional value for them,” she maintained.

“IWG proposed two principles for food marketing with the first being that foods marketed to children should provide a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet, with contributions from at least one of the following: fruit, vegetable, whole grain, fat free or low fat milk, fish, extra lean meat or poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, and beans,” she explained.

“Principle B state the need to minimize nutrients with negative impact on health such that foods marketed should not contain more than: saturated fat: one gram or less per RACC and 15% or less of calories, trans fat:  zero gram per RACC, added sugars: no more than 13 grams of added sugars per RACC and sodium: no more than 210 mg per serving,” she added.

According to her, childhood obesity according to a 2004 Institute of Medicine report should be viewed as a societal problem reflecting the interactive influences of environment, biology and behaviour rather than as an individual  medical  illness.

She noted that obesity runs in families saying: “after age three, parental obesity is a stronger predictor of a child’s future obesity as an adult than is the child’s current weight. It is difficult to shed the weight once you are obese,” she mentioned.

According to her, cost of childhood obesity could include social, emotional as well as physical and health costs “While some physical costs may not result until later in life, there are immediate effects on children’s social and emotional lives.  Collective body of research indicates obese children and youth are stigmatised and subject to negative stereotyping and discrimination,” she said.

(Source: Gulf Times)

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