Maternal nutrition linked to children’s risk of NCDs and obesity

The nutritional well-being of pregnant women affects not only their fetuses’ development but also children’s long-term risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or obesity, according to a new report from WHO/Europe “Good maternal nutrition. The best start in life”.

While the importance of good nutrition in the early development of children has been recognized for decades, the report offers a systematized review of the most recent evidence on maternal nutrition and obesity and NCD prevention. The findings confirm that a mother’s nutritional status – including overweight and obesity, excessive gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes – affects not only her child’s health as an infant but also the child’s risk of obesity and related chronic diseases as an adult. In short, maternal nutrition can truly have an intergenerational impact.

The findings of this report further emphasize the need to implement strategies to optimize the nutrition of reproductive-age women. The evidence suggests that such interventions are among the most effective and sustainable means of achieving positive effects on health and reducing health inequalities across the next generation.

For more information about the impact of maternal nutrition on children on the euro.who.int website

 

Decade of Action on Nutrition

Nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished and 159 million children under 5 years of age are stunted. Approximately 50 million children under 5 years are wasted and over two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile 1.9 billion people are overweight – of whom over 600 million are obese – and the prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing in nearly all countries.

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed a UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.

The resolution aims to trigger intensified action to end hunger and eradicate malnutrition worldwide, and ensure universal access to healthier and more sustainable diets – for all people, whoever they are and wherever they live. It calls on governments to set national nutrition targets for 2025 and milestones based on internationally agreed indicators.

For more information about the Decade of Action on Nutrition on the who.int website

Global report on Diabetes

The first WHO Global report on diabetes states that the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults. Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity.

In 2012 alone diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths and its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

The report calls on governments to ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes. It encourages us all to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.

To read the Global Report on Diabetes on the who.int website

 

Obesity in the EU

In Europe today, 6 of the 7 biggest risk factors for premature death – blood pressure, cholesterol, Body Mass Index, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse – relate to how we eat, drink and move.

Rising overweight and obesity across Europe is particularly worrying. The European Commission advocates an integrated approach, involving stakeholders at local, regional, national and European levels.

In 2014, an Action Plan on Childhood Obesity was adopted that aims to halt the rise of childhood obesity by 2020.  A Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity, involving 25 Member States, was started in September 2015.

To read more about EU policies on Nutrition and Physical Activity on the ec.europa.eu website.

Global action on diabetes

The number of adults living with diabetes worldwide has almost quadrupled since 1980, to 422 million, according to the first WHO Global report on diabetes. An estimated 64 million people are now living with the disease in the WHO European Region.

The growing diabetes epidemic is strongly associated with increasing trends in overweight and obesity, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and socioeconomic disadvantage. Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease, and simple changes to one’s lifestyle can be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of the disease and its complications, which can include cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs and even loss of life.

To read the Global Report on Diabetes on the who.int website

Obese outnumber the underweight globally

There are now more adults in the world classified as obese than underweight, according to a major study led by scientists from Imperial College London.

They compared body mass index (BMI) among almost 20 million adult men and women from 1975 to 2014 and found that obesity in men has tripled and more than doubled in women.

The study, which pooled data from adults in 186 countries, found that the number of obese people worldwide had risen from 105 million in 1975 to 641 million in 2014. Meanwhile the number of underweight people had risen from 330 million to 462 million over the same period.

To read the full article on global obesity on press.thelancet.com

Encouraging healthy food choices

An EU-wide conference on Food Product Improvement was held earlier this year in Amsterdam which brought together representatives from the food industry, retail and supermarkets, NGOs and the EU member states. In addition, the World Health Organisation and non-EU countries such as Norway and Switzerland also took part – making this event the first time these organisations had come together on such a large scale.

The conference approved a “Roadmap for Action”, which calls for combined action to make food products healthier by gradually reducing the amount of salt, saturated fat and sugar (calories). This means a public-private partnership between experts from the member states and representatives of the food industry, patients’ associations and consumer organizations.

Several EU countries are already reducing salt, saturated fats and sugars in food products. This conference has paved the way for the Informal and Formal European Council meetings of the Ministers of Health later this spring where it is hoped to reach political agreement about implementation of the Roadmap.

To download the Roadmap for Action in English from the rijksoverheid.nl website

Global recommendations to stop childhood obesity

The World Health Assembly recently adopted a global target for all countries to renew their efforts to halt the rise of obesity in children under 5 by 2025.

The Commission’s recommendations to address childhood obesity cover six areas:

  • promotion of intake of healthy foods;
  • promotion of physical activity;
  • preconception and pregnancy care;
  • early childhood diet and physical activity;
  • health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children;
  • weight management.

To read the report and other publications on childhood obesity on the euro.who.int website.

Children and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

Children and adolescents logo

June 2014. All the evidence shows that investing in the health and wellbeing of our children and young people brings life-long benefits – not only to the young people themselves but also to their families and wider society.

Attendees at this seminar had the opportunity to hear examples from the UK and abroad of good practice in securing the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents through actions and interventions outside the home. The programme gives brief biographies of both speakers and their presentations covered European projects that have focused on obesity, body image and the associated mental health of young people as well as a project that generated sustainable support networks.