Race on to stem obesity

3 years ago

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The race seems to be on to stem the tide of obesity before it too becomes a pandemic. The health risks associated with the disease justifies concerns echoed globally by various health administrations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO),“Obesity is one of today’s most blatantly visible – yet most neglected – public health problems… an escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – is taking over many parts of the world. If immediate action is not taken, millions will suffer from an array of serious health disorders.” Some of the latest actions to be taken against obesity are by the U.S, the UK and China.

The first dietary guidelines for children were recently released by the U.S government. They recommend feeding only breast milk for at least six months and no added sugar for children under age 2. The guidelines issued every five years are used to set the standards for school lunches and other programmes. Meanwhile in the UK, as part of an anti-obesity drive, supermarkets could be banned from offering junk food promotions and from placing sweets and chocolate at the end of aisles. Some supermarkets have removed what they called guilt aisles from their establishments. The suggested ban is being met with some resistance, but the government seem resolute in its stance.

China is more extreme in its obesity fight. “A draft law was submitted to the country’s top legislative body for review. The provisions include punishing social media influencers who make money by posting videos of themselves eating excessive amounts of food online with fines of up to $15,300 and requiring restaurants to offer a variety of portion sizes,” sources say.  More than half of China’s adult population is either overweight or obese while 19 percent of children 6 -17 are in the obese or overweight category.

Although these countries are the most recent to upgrade initiatives against obesity, the problem is not unique to them and therefore should not be ignored. The WHO aptly conveys the gravity of the situation by stating that, “Obesity is a complex condition, one with serious social and psychological dimensions, that affects virtually all age and socioeconomic groups and threatens to overwhelm both developed and developing countries.” In Jamaica, 1 of every 2 persons is overweight or obese. In Jamaica, like other parts of the world, the alarming rise in childhood obesity is concerning. While campaigns have been launched by the Health and Wellness Ministry and there have been some policy changes, perhaps more forceful measures need to be instituted to reduce the rising tide and mitigate the effects of obesity in the country.