The number of children who are overweight around the world has risen dramatically in recent years. Today an estimated 41 million children under age five are overweight, and this number is expected to nearly double over the next decade.
Children who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other respiratory problems, sleep disorders and liver disease. They may also suffer from psychological effects, such as low self-esteem, depression and social isolation. Childhood overweight also increases the risk of obesity, non-communicable diseases, premature death and disability in adulthood.
The economic costs of childhood overweight and obesity are considerable, both in terms of the enormous financial strains it places on health-care systems and in terms of lost economic productivity. In many countries, the epidemic of overweight and obesity exists alongside a continuing problem of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, creating a “double burden” of malnutrition.
As the number of overweight children is on the rise in all corners of the world, in 2012, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global childhood overweight target to halt the increase in childhood overweight by 2025.