Overweight Children in Developing Countries

    11 June, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) says there has been a sharp increase in the number of children in developing countries who weight to much.  In Africa countries, the WHO says the number of overweight or obese children is two times as high as it was 20 years ago.

    Around the world, about 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011. Doctors use height, weight and age to measure whether a person is underweight, normal, overweight or obese.

    Overweight & obese children are more likely to become overweight & obese adults. The condition can lead to serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

    Francesco Branca is the director of the WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. He says people are eating manufactured or processed food more often, he says it often has a high sugar, fat and salt content.

    The WHO also says people are gaining weight because of city lifestyles. They travel in cars or other vehicles more than on foot, and they are less physical activity in general.

    The WHO says it is common to find poor nutrition and obesity in the same country, the same community and even in the same family.

    And experts say lowering obesity rates is especially complex in countries that also deal with higher rate of infectious disease.

    The WHO has some basic solutions for individuals and countries. The organization says to lower your in-take of fat, sugar, salt and proceesed food. It says eat more fruit and vegetables, and increase physical activity. The WHO says these actions are especially important for children.

    And WHO experts say mothers should breastfeed their babies for at least the first six months of life if possible.

    WHO official Francesco Branca says government should consider providing vitamin for children. He says educational campaigns about problems linked to obesity would also help. And he says government policies should deal with how food is marketed to children.

    Mr Branca says food manufactures must balance quality and taste with the dangers of sugar, fat and salt. He also said reducing the number of overweight children will not be easy. He says the goal is difficult to meet even in wealthy countries.

    The currently goal of the WHO's World Health Assembly is to prevent an increase in the percentage of overweight children during the next twelve years.

    And that's the Health Report from VOA Learning English, I'm Karen Leggett.