Report: Childhood obesity best fought through living environment

9 February 2017

Measures to combat childhood obesity should be aimed at the obesogenic environment and not against individual children and their families. This is the most important conclusion of the recently published post-conference report from Uppsala Health Summit 2016.

Recently, Swedish researchers demanded political measures such as a soft drink tax to fight the alarming increase of obesity in children. However, Minister for Health Care, Public Health and Sport Gabriel Wikström has not made any promises and wants to await ongoing inquiries.

More than 42 million children around the world have an increased risk of developing diabetes and other diseases as an effect of obesity. The UN, among others, has identified the need for actions to reverse the trend. But the problem is complex and often stigmatising.

A soft drink tax has been proposed, and tried in some countries. This suggestion was discussed also at Uppsala Health Summit in October last year, and the recommendation is that if such a measure is to be effective the tax needs to be applied more broadly than just on soft drinks, and needs to be combined with other measures.

Uppsala Health Summit gathered representatives from universities, companies, public authorities, organisations and politics for two days’ discussion on different aspects of how we can reverse the trend of increasing childhood obesity. The post-conference report that has now been published clearly states the suggestions put forward by the delegates during the two days.

“The report recommends a broad range of measures which affect the children’s entire living environment. Individual measures will not be enough to stop childhood obesity. However, collaboration between many different actors requires political leadership, which the report also calls for”, says Professor Rikard Landberg, chair of the Uppsala Health Summit programme committee 2016.

Several of the suggestions from Uppsala Health Summit can also be found in the WHO’s recently presented draft international action plan against childhood obesity, which is expected to be adopted at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May this year.

Find out more about Uppsala Health Summit och download the report from