Researchers claimed that childhood obesity rates have reached significantly higher rates compared to a generation ago, and while the rates are beginning to level off in some countries, there is no one country in particular that could report a decline in childhood obesity.
Even worse, efforts to deal with childhood obesity have been “unacceptably slow”, reflecting the rate of one in four countries that introduced healthy eating policies up to 2010.
The findings were published in the Lancet medical journal.
Dr. Tim Lobstein, author of the article and member of the World Obesity Federation, estimates that children in the US eat on average 200 extra calories per day compared with children in the 1970s. The number of extra calories equals to extra $400 worth of food per child per year, or $20 billion for US food industry.
Dr. Lobstein commented: “Fat children are an investment in future sales.”
Food industry, Dr. Lobstein added, is particularly interested in targeting children, hoping to turn them into future consumers of salty and sweetened products later in life, which can lead to brand loyalty and increased profits.
Most countries, however, take no steps to create a regulation that protects children from the effects of obesity. Instead, countries let voluntary moves by food industry dictate the response to the condition, even though ample evidence shows such approach is ineffective.
The experts call for a change in food policies, such as taxes on unhealthy food products like sugary drinks, subsidies on healthier foods for low-income families like fruit vouchers, an international code of marketing when it comes to children’s health and the regulation of food quality in schools.