GHC WHA Statement on Agenda Item 12.2 – Report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity

Chairperson, Honorable Ministers, distinguished delegates, colleagues:

Thank you for the opportunity to deliver this statement on behalf of the Global Health Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We applaud this report for adopting a life-course approach to ending obesity. Many countries now suffer from the “double burden” of malnutrition—growing numbers of people are overweight or obese, often with micronutrient deficiencies, even while 159 million children under the age five are stunted.

We strongly recommend breastfeeding as the preferred feeding for infants, as it provides a strong foundation for future growth and development. Smoking and exposure to second hand tobacco smoke also impact obesity and malnutrition.

We encourage policies that promote breastfeeding, increase access to healthful foods, limit access to unhealthful foods, and engage the media and other sectors to encourage healthy eating. Access to safe and attractive places for physical activity, encouraging physical activity, and limiting screen time are additional ways to encourage healthy lifestyles.

We also encourage partnerships between government agencies, the private sector and civil society, including national pediatric societies and other health professional associations, patient advocacy groups, parent groups and foundations. Combatting malnutrition in all its forms will require strengthening national-level capacity and introducing a multi-sectoral approach to ensure nutrition-sensitive programming is included in a wide range of sectors, including health, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, social protection, and education.

We support the adoption of a standardized global nutrient labelling system. Global standards would facilitate comparisons across countries and help to mitigate the influence of industry forces on national dietary guidelines.

Thank you.