World Health Organization 66th Session of the Regional Committee for the Americas September 29th - October 4th 2014 | Washington D.C., USA
Statement of International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations on Agenda Item 4.7: Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents Honorable Health Leaders from the Americas: On behalf of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations which represents 126 National Medical Students’ Associations, we welcome the discussion on obesity of Children and adolescents Worldwide obesity has almost doubled in the period of time between 1980 and 2008. Today, in three of the countries of the region: Mexico, Chile and United States; 7 out of 10 people stand in overweight or obesity. Today we stand in a critical point and it is our responsibility to make the changes to avoid a more tragic scenario. The region of the Americas due to both the unhealthy lifestyles and genetics has suffered the most dramatic scenario regarding overweight and obesity. We applaud the efforts the region has made elaborating the plan of action for the prevention of obesity in children and adolescents for the period 2014 – 2019. As part of the changing actors in the topic, we have some points we will like to highlight. First, there is an urgent necessity to strongly engage every different sector of the society in the fight against obesity. Today, the rates of obesity and overweight in children of the region vary from 15% up to 35%. If nothing is done, more than the quarter of the population in the Americas will be suffering of a great burden of Non Communicable diseases in a ten years time. This also leads to easy development of disabilities which translates this problem into big expenses in health, social, economic and even cultural ways for the governments. Second, obesity is not an isolated problem. Mental health issues are also linked to metabolic problems The inclusion of this to the program may cause a greater impact and a longer success in the strategy. Third, governments must take the responsibility and commitment to specific actions to mitigate obesity. People with low and middle income salaries have been the target of the lack of access to quality food. Growing prices in production and sales have pushed them to a high intake of energydense nutrient poor snacks, fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages. Healthy friendly environments must be constructed to allow physical activity and healthy nutrition all over the region. We call upon PAHO and member states: • To ensure a multisectoral approach in the fight against obesity • To consider the mental implications that precipice children and adolescents to use eating as way of catharsis to forget and get over their problems. • To prioritize public quality spaces for physical activity, food security and availability at affordable prices must be a priority for every government. Contact Maria Jose Cisneros Caceres IFMSA Regional Coordinator for the Americas firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ifmsa.org
Statement made by IFMSA during the WHO Pan American Regional Committee Session.