The new report from the World Obesity Federation came out, and what it mentions is quite alarming. The situation is critical and is a threat to many we know:
-Obesity rates are likely to double by 2030, with the highest increases in the lowest-income countries. Over the next eight years, the number of obese people in low-income countries is projected to triple, compared to 2010. No country is on track to meet the World Health Organization target (WHO) to stop obesity by 2025.
-More than a billion people in the world will be obese by 2030, twice as many as in 2010. In Mexico, in that year the obese adults will be 21M women (41%) and 11M men (32%).
Obesity was found to be a major contributor to Covid-19 deaths. 2nd. after age. Many lives could have been saved if governments had taken earlier action to implement integrated policies to help prevent and control obesity. The confinement measures in the world had a negative impact on diets and lifestyles, increasing screen time and decreasing physical activity at school and at leisure, added to that insecurity and food supply.
-The economic impact is massive with direct costs (costs, medical, etc.) and indirect costs (impact on productivity losses, reduction of human capital, etc.). In Mexico, it is estimated at US$ 26 billion (2.05 of GDP).
-Children living with obesity are more likely to have poorer health, with hypertension and metabolic disorders. Childhood obesity often carries over into adulthood.
-The global prevalence of obesity is higher among women than among men, which highlights the need for inclusive policies based on gender equality policies.
The challenge is clear, reduce obesity to improve health, starting with the children of the world and in Mexico, and now is the time to act. The World Obesity Federation recommendation is based on five key pillars of the ROOTS framework that encompass:
-Recognize that obesity is a disease, as well as a risk factor for other conditions.
-Monitoring and surveillance of obesity should be improved to strengthen effective strategies to prevent it.
-Obesity prevention strategies must be developed, tested and implemented throughout life, from before conception, through childhood and into old age.
-The treatment of obesity, including behavioral, pharmacological, digital, nutritional, physical activity-based and surgical interventions, must be accessible to all.
-Systems-based approaches should be applied to the treatment and prevention of obesity.
Some key measures to address the problem are, at the government level: invest to ensure access to and promote healthy diets, increase physical activity in schools and in leisure time, implement stricter regulations to restrict the marketing of unhealthy products targeted children, and address psychological factors exacerbated by lockdowns, etc.
The action must be strong and for this a virtuous circle must be created between governments -private sector and civil organizations-, thanks to an integrated plan, and, of course, to stop the course of ill health in adulthood, prevention of childhood obesity is a unique opportunity.
The UNESCO focuses on sustainable development, quality education and youth empowerment in evidence-based interventions.
It is the main agency of the United Nations with the mandate to work in Education, Sport and Physical Education with the aim of connecting policy with practice. Sports education prepares citizens for life.
UNESCO estimates that engaging in daily physical activity can reduce obesity by 30 percent and translate to a 30 percent reduction in depression, that regular physical exercise is associated with better learning outcomes (test scores 40 percent higher), that 80 percent of young women surveyed in Europe equate participation in sport with increased confidence and decreased anxiety, that better health could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2040, an 8 percent increase that translates to 0.4 percent faster growth each year.
The UNESCO Fit For Life program therefore has 5 clear objectives:
-Increase grassroots participation in quality sport and physical education to reduce inactivity and chronic illnesses (physical and mental).
-Support the development of inclusive and quality sports policies that promote health, education and equality results.
-Use values education through sports to empower young people.
-Support teachers and coaches to promote quality student-centered sports education curricula.
-Generate evidence to support specific investments in sport as an accelerator of the recovery from Covid-19.
‘Fit for Life’ will promote results of well-being and equality through quality sports education based on values:
-Promote physical and mental health through sport, quality PE and the promotion of a good diet.
-Use education in sports values to change behaviors, promote inclusion and also equality.
-Be able to measure the impact of the intervention and try to support the planning of integrated policies in the same way.
UNESCO is uniting an interdisciplinary pact of public and private partners to drive transformational change from policy to practice.
Driving transformational change is the key, and sports stakeholders can integrate the mission to decrease obesity, improve health and lifestyles!
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