Childhood obesity policies - mighty concerns, meek reactions

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Background: The increasing number of children defined as overweight or obeseis causing concern among politicians and health advocates; several countries havelaunched policies addressing the issue.Method: The paper presents an analysis of how the childhood obesity is defined,explained and suggested policies to address the problem from the WHO, the EU,Canada, England and New Zealand.Results: Considering the dramatic language used when describing childhood obe-sity, the proposed interventions are modest. Either the politicians do not considerthe problem that great after all, or other concerns, such as the freedom of the foodand drink industry and local authorities, are seen as more important. The causesidentified are multiple and varied, including the physical and commercial environ-ment, whereas the interventions primarily address the information level of the pop-ulation, placing responsibility on the shoulders of the parents. Only the WorldHealth Organization argues that statutory measures are required, and the EnglishGovernment suggests one: a levy on sugary drinks. Otherwise, local authorities,schools and the industry are expected to act on a voluntary basis. Very little is ex-plicitly substantiated by evidence, and the evidence cited is sometimesmisinterpreted or disregarded.Conclusion: There is a discrepancy between how the problem of childhood obe-sity is presented as alarming and the modest measures suggested.
Original languageEnglish
JournalObesity Reviews
Volume19
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
ISSN1467-7881
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 188405775