WHO Issues Guidance On Obesity, Undernutrition In Developing Countries

“The United Nations health agency has issued new guidance to help low- and middle-income countries tackle the emerging double threat of childhood obesity and undernutrition, and halt the growing burden of associated diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “According to the [WHO], more than 75 percent of overweight children live in developing countries, with the prevalence in Africa almost doubling in the last 20 years,” the news service writes, adding, “Globally, over 100 million children under five years of age are underweight, the agency noted in a news release, while 165 million are stunted – a better indicator of chronic undernutrition” (6/6). “The WHO says being overweight or obese can lead to serious long-term health problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke,” VOA News notes.

Francesco Branca, director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, “says successful policy initiatives, such as urging exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life and the distribution of vitamin and nutrient supplements, have helped to reduce rates of child malnutrition and stunting in recent years,” the news service writes, adding, “Now, he said, countries need to get proactive on childhood obesity” (Lazuta, 6/6). “To assist countries, WHO presented a package of 24 essential nutrition actions,” the U.N. News Centre writes, noting, “These include improving nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding women; encouraging early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, then continued breastfeeding up to two years; and promoting appropriate solid foods for young children” (6/6).