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Government-led efforts targeting eating habits of children needed to curb worldwide obesity epidemic
Date:8/25/2011

.) In a companion commentary, William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, writes that if U.S. trends based on historical data for 1988� continue, obesity among U.S. adults will increase from its current level of approximately 32% to approximately 50% by 2030. The increased costs of treating obesity-associated diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, will reach $66 billion annually in the U.S. by 2030.

Obesity trends and physical activity need closer monitoring in all countries, including high-income countries. Most countries still need basic data: Only a third of European Union nations have representative data on children's weight and height. Few countries have set targets for obesity rates, changes in dietary intake, or physical activity. In addition, efforts taken by the food industry to reformulate products and undertake other measures to encourage healthier eating should be independently assessed for effectiveness, the authors say.

Gortmaker and his colleagues call for action at multiple levels of society. They provide a list of interventions aimed at children, adolescents, and adults that have been estimated to be cost-effective. In addition to taxes on unhealthy food and drink and restrictions on junk food and beverage TV advertising to children, the authors recommend school-based education and nutrition and physical activity programs for children and some weight loss interventions.

The Lancet Obesity Series precedes the first High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly focused on non-communicable disease prevention and control, set for September 19-20, 2011, in New York City. The authors said the meeting "is an important opportunity for the international community to provide the leadership, global standards, and cross-agency structures needed to create a global food system that offers a healthy and a secure food sup
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Contact: Marge Dwyer
mhdwyer@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-8416
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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