Forum puts four areas in focus

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands representative Amber Mendiola speaks at the Pacific Ending Childhood Obesity Network Program in Nadi. Picture: REINAL CHAND

HEALTH Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete has called for greater collaboration between regional health professionals and stakeholders to reduce the rising incidence rate of child obesity in the Pacific.

Speaking at the Pacific Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) Network inaugural forum yesterday, Dr Waqainabete said it was heartening to note the network was prioritising collective action in four strategic areas.

These include physical activity promotion, the restriction of marketing of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, fiscal policy intervention and child obesity surveillance.

“These strategies are comprehensive and upstream in scope and no doubt based on the evolving evidence of the effectiveness of obesity interventions and past successes,” he said.

Dr Waqainabete said the World Health Organization (WHO) report of the commission on ending childhood obesity stated that childhood obesity was reaching alarming proportions in many countries and posed an urgent and serious challenge.

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set by the United Nations in 2015, identify prevention and control of non-communicable diseases as core priorities.

“Among the NCD risk factors, obesity is particularly concerning and has the potential to negate many of the health benefits that have contributed to increased life expectancy.

“Progress in tackling childhood obesity has been slow and inconsistent.

“The Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity was established in 2014 to review, build upon and address gaps in existing mandates and strategies.

“Having consulted with over 100 WHO member states and reviewed nearly 180 online comments, the commission has developed a set of recommendations to successfully tackle childhood and adolescent obesity in different contexts around the world.”

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