World Obesity Day and spotlight on childhood obesity

Today is World Obesity Day (11th October) – an annual campaign seeking to stimulate and support practical actions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis. The campaign was first launched in 2015 by the World Obesity Federation, the federation representing organisations dedicated to solving the issue of obesity.

The CHErIsH study is an example of a multi-component intervention that seeks to support and promote healthy infant feeding practices among parents and primary caregivers. Research on the feasibility of CHErIsH is continuing at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre in Co. Cork and the findings from this research should be available early next year. A key focus of and the primary impetus for CHErIsH is to help reduce the risk of childhood overweight and obesity.

The issue of childhood obesity has received particular attention in recent days and weeks with the publication of two key reports to coincide with World Obesity Day. The first is the Atlas of Childhood Obesity, published by the World Obesity Federation earlier this month. The global atlas presents data for 191 countries (including Ireland) based on their current and predicted levels of obesity in children, the risk factors and the presence of government policies to tackle obesity. The report highlights the need for greater progress and government action in this area, indicating that no country has a better than 50 percent chance of meeting their target for tackling childhood obesity.

The second publication is an independent report by former UK Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sally Davies – entitled Time to Solve Childhood Obesity. Published this week, the hard-hitting report once again highlights the lack of government action in tackling the issue of childhood obesity. The report outlines key principles that should underpin further action in this area, with a particular focus on primary prevention – including shaping environments to ensure that children eat healthier and are more active. A BMJ opinion piece published on the same day offers further commentary on this report, conceding that a radical increase in both the breadth and intensity of actions to tackle childhood obesity is required if we are to halve its prevalence by 2030.

These reports underline the seriousness of the childhood obesity issue, which is estimated to increase by 100 million worldwide by 2030 among school-age children and adolescents, unless substantial interventions are implemented to prevent and treat childhood obesity.  

CHErIsH is a novel intervention that seeks to promote healthy infant feeding, viewing early feeding as a critical window in which parents or caregivers can reduce the risk of childhood obesity and overweight. The CHErIsH team is committed to helping to stem the rise of childhood overweight and obesity, as part of the global and multi-faceted efforts to address this critical issue. On World Obesity Day, CHErIsH would like to thank all its stakeholders, including its primary care partner, for their commitment and efforts in helping to design and implement this multi-component intervention, and the team looks forward to sharing the findings of its latest research.

Note: The World Obesity Federation has announced that, from next year, World Obesity Day will move to 4th March. It states that the new World Obesity Day 2020 will focus on changing the narratives around obesity globally in coordination with national and regional efforts.

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