The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an interim report that seeks to identify policy options for mitigating the risk of childhood obesity. Published by WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, the strategy document emphasizes “the importance of a life-course approach to simultaneously address the risk factors for childhood obesity from before conception, through pregnancy and during childhood, as well as the obesogenic environment in which children and adolescents grow and develop.”
Among other things, the interim report urges policymakers to “tackle the obesogenic environment” by adopting standardized food labeling schemes and addressing food and beverage marketing to children. “There is unequivocal evidence that unhealthy food and non-alcoholic beverage marketing is related to childhood obesity,” states the commission. “The increasing number of voluntary efforts by industry and communities suggest that the need for change is widely agreed. Any attempt to tackle childhood obesity should, therefore, include a reduction in exposure of children to, and the power of, marketing as endorsed by the World Health Assembly.”
In particular, WHO concludes that “governments have the essential role in coordinating and addressing the challenge of childhood obesity and providing an appropriate regulatory and statutory framework.” Recommending “consistent multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approaches” that take into account issues of gender, equity and geography, the report also advocates the adoption of national monitoring and accountability frameworks to ensure compliance. The commission has requested comments on its findings by June 30, 2015.