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Childhood obesity in focus at 2016 Uppsala Health Summit

Press release
2016-05-16

In just a few decades, the number of overweight and obese adults and children in the world has reached alarming levels, not least in low-income countries. This year, Uppsala Health Summit is taking place in conjunction with World Obesity Day: 11-12 October 2016. International experts on child obesity will gather  to discuss countermeasures with industry, policy makers and society.

In a recent report, WHO declared that too little is being done to stop the obesity epidemic we see spreading around the world, which is threatening to undermine much of the progress that has helped improve global health. Long-term health problems related to obesity start at an early age and the occurrence of conditions such as type 2 diabetes is increasing among children. The recommendations made by the report form the starting point for Uppsala Health Summit.

“This is an important area and we want to help by bringing together prominent people to discuss the real situation and what we can do to stop the way things are going. Childhood obesity leads to health problems for the next generation of adults for which the world will pay dearly, both in human suffering and in social cost,” says Anders Malmberg, pro-vice-chancellor of Uppsala University and chairman of the Uppsala Health Summit steering committee.

In 2014, 41 million of the world’s under-fives were obese or overweight. In middle and low-income countries which have the greatest number of obese or overweight children in the world, there has been a doubling during the same period. WHO points out that many children grow up in environments where there is a shortage of healthy food, aggressive marketing of high-calorie junk food and little physical activity.

Swedish minister of Health care, Public health and Sports, Mr Gabriel Wikström, will adress the meeting. Another key.note speaker at the event is Boyd Swinburn, researcher into Global Health at the University of Auckland, co-chair of The Lancet Commission on Obesity and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention. Among other things, he will describe the background to the developments we are seeing today with accelerating childhood obesity.
Mr Alejandro Calvillo, general director of the Mexican consumer rights organisation El Poder del Consumidor, will talk about lessons learned from the campaign they on introduction of sugar tax on soft drinks Mexico. The tax was introduced in 2014 despite fierce opposition from the drinks industry and others.

“By bringing together people involved with this issue from different parts of the world and by presenting examples of action taken, we want to inspire wide-ranging collaboration between various sectors of society. The aim is to make it possible for children to grow up without becoming overweight or obese and then running the risk of developing lifelong health problems,” says Rikard Landberg, chairman of the programme committee for Uppsala Health Summit.

During the summit meeting, various seminar groups will discuss a number of areas in depth:
• Tools for change (e.g. taxes)
• The effects of globalisation of the food chain and food industry
• Support for changes in behaviour
• Responsibility and ethics
• Migration and dietary changes
• Healthy eating innovation

Read the WHO report.

Read more about the conference and Uppsala Health Summit.

For more information about the conference, contact:

Uppsala Health Summit project leader Madeleine Neil, mobile: +4670 425 08 91, e-mail: madeleine.neil@uadm.uu.se

Press contact at Hume Brophy: Supraya Mathur, Alexia Faure: +44 207 862 6381, email: uppsala@humebrophy.com