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Food & Beverages, LIFE

Sugar-rich Beverages Increase Childhood Obesity

Posted: Jun 28, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Yinka Shokunbi, with Agency Report

That there is an increasing concern over the rate at which many children are developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases is stating the obvious.

Food & BeveragesPreviously, it was uncommon to find children develop cardiovascular diseases especially diabetes related complications but now, according to Associate Professor, Endocrinology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, (LUTH) Femi Fasanmade, the condition is on the increase and has become a commoner.

According to Fasanmade, “childhood obesity is more prevalent in the middle and high socioeconomic group.

“Though there are no national figures on the frequency but the number affected is increasing and some children are developing type 2 diabetes for this reason”.

Fasanmade pointed out that a survey carried out in some private primary school surveys shows 40-50% of the pupils are overweight or obese.

“The condition is increasing due to increased calories consumed through fast foods, soft drinks, reduced exercise, smaller family size and increased use of indoor games and longer time spent watching television”, the Consultant Endocrinologist observed.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) blamed childhood obesity, especially in developing countries, on the marketing of sugar-rich non-alcoholic beverages and ultra-processed, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods.

Director-General Margaret Chan, told the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity meeting in Hong Kong that “childhood obesity can erode the benefits that arrive with social and economic progress.’’

She said that childhood obesity must be accepted as a significant and urgent threat to health that was relevant in all countries.

Chan therefore called on all governments to take the lead saying, now is the time to safeguard the future of every child.

She commended the interim report on the work carried out thus far by the commission and commended the group.

Chan warned that voluntary initiatives were not likely to be sufficient.

“To be successful, efforts aimed at reducing the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages need support from regulatory and statutory approaches.

“Perhaps most importantly, you defined a moral responsibility and stated where it must lie.

“None of the factors that cause obesity are under the control of the child,” she said.

She said that the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013.

According to the DG, in Africa alone, the number of overweight or obese children increased from 4 to 9 million over the same period.

The WHO Chief quoted fact sheet on childhood obesity as saying that the vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries; warning that if the current trends continued, the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally would increase to 70 million by 2025.

Chan said that WHO’s governing body, the World Health Assembly in 2014 approved the Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases 2013-2020.

The WHO boss said that the plan was aimed at achieving the commitments of the UN Political Declaration on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

She said that the action plan would contribute to progress on nine global NCD targets to be attained in 2025, including halting of the global obesity rates in school-aged children, adolescents and adults.

As one of the ways to halt the growing epidemic of obesity among Nigerian children Nutrition experts have suggested that government should encourage serving meals that are balanced in Schools.

“We might seize this opportunity to remind the new government which has a plan to feed school children to ensure more of nutrient rich foods available in the various localities to be served in Schools” says Funmilayo Adebambo, professor of animal husbandry and genetics, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

She advised that children should be encouraged to take less of sugar-drinks and more of water and lots of protein than carbohydrates which is eventually converted into sugar.