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37 million children under five are overweight

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37 million children under five are overweight

Italy ranks fourth in the European Union when it comes to childhood obesity, with alarming statistics showing that 43% of boys and 36% of girls are affected by overweight or obesity. These concerning numbers were highlighted by Unicef on World Obesity Prevention Day, observed on March 4.

According to a joint report by Unicef, WHO, and the World Bank Group, it is estimated that in 2022, 37 million children under the age of five worldwide were affected by overweight, representing 5.6% of the total. In Europe, Italy stands out with high rates of childhood obesity, pointing to a growing concern within the region and globally.

The report also revealed that in high and upper-middle income countries, where 31% of children under five reside, 48% of overweight children can be found. It emphasizes the importance of providing adequate nutrition to every child as a fundamental human right and a pathway to a healthier future.

The issue of junk food marketing was also addressed, with Unicef linking the increase in childhood overweight and obesity to the easy accessibility of unhealthy, low-cost foods and exploitative marketing practices. The agency stressed the need for an empathetic dialogue on overweight and obesity to destigmatize the issue and promote healthy habits among children.

With obesity during childhood being increasingly associated with bullying and stigma, Unicef urges stakeholders to create an enabling environment to support children living with overweight and obesity. Tackling the root causes of childhood obesity and promoting a healthier food environment are crucial in addressing this growing public health concern.

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