‘Childhood obesity rate worryingly soars in Iran’

March 16, 2019

TEHRAN — Childhood obesity is on the rise in the country alarmingly and it can be prevented by healthy diet and increased physical activity among children, director of the Health Ministry's nutrition office, Zahra Abdollahi, has said.

The main solution to prevent childhood obesity is changing families’ diet as consumption of fast foods and carbonated drinks are causing serious health problems among the children, IRNA news agency quoted Abdollahi as saying on Saturday.

Children’s diet is highly depending on parents’ choices so that they can play an important role in their children’s healthy diet as well, she suggested, warning that, in case a child has a carving for sugary food and get used to consuming them in large portions they will be at risk for developing various diseases in adulthood.

Consuming too much fatty and sugary foods and physical inactivity in the modern life has worsen the conditions, she said, stating that children should at least be physically active 60 minutes per day.

Children are not sufficiently active and do not consume enough vegetables and fruits, she regretted.

In September 2018, Abdollahi explained that obesity has affected 20 percent of the students in the country.

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data globally, in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 41 million.

The problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Almost half of all overweight children under 5 lived in Asia and one quarter lived in Africa.

If current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025.

Obese children are more likely to develop a variety of health problems as adults. These include: cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance (often an early sign of impending diabetes), musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis - a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints), some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon), and disability.

WHO highlights that early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and the introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond would help in preventing childhood obesity.

Moreover school-aged children and adolescents should: limit energy intake from total fats and sugars; increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day).

MQ/MG

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