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At the 67th World Health Assembly, a new High-Level Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity was officially launched. This new Commission is to gather the best possible advice on dealing with the crisis of childhood obesity, specifying which approaches and which combinations of interventions are likely to be most effective in different contexts around the world. The report is to arise from consensus between a broad variety of experts. The Commission will deliver its report to the WHO Director-General in early 2015 so that she can convey its recommendations to the 2015 World Health Assembly.

In 2012, more than 40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese. By 2025, 70 million children under 5 will be overweight or obese if current trends continue.

Silos initiatives and singled-out disciplines cannot provide the foundation for a strategic and systemic approach to tackling childhood obesity. Social scientists, public health specialists, clinical scientists and economists are herewith called upon to join together to synthesize the best available evidence into a coherent plan. Actors responsible for food production, manufacturing, marketing and retail; maternal health and nutrition; child health, education and health literacy; physical activity; and public policy will also be meaningfully engaged in this important task.

The Commission is to operate in a Working groups-mode, where:

1. An ad hoc Working Group on Science and Evidence will consist of experts in epidemiology, paediatrics, nutrition, development origins, health literacy, and marketing to children, health economics, physical activity and gestational diabetes; the group will:

– estimate the prevalence of childhood obesity and its consequences

– evaluate the economic impact of childhood obesity

– examine the evidence on prevention of childhood obesity and how to reverse it in affected children

– determine the best combination of policies to put in place to achieve these goals in different settings

– evaluate and recommend policy options for monitoring and surveillance.

2. The Working Group on Implementation, Monitoring and Accountability will consist of experts in monitoring and accountability, joined by representatives of governments, civil society, groups representing children, advocates for child health and nutrition, international organizations and the food industry. This group will develop:

– a framework for implementation of and accountability for policies recommended by the Working Group on Science and Evidence

– mechanisms required to monitor recommended policy options

– assessment of the feasibility of monitoring recommended policy options

– an approach ensuring that countries are not unduly burdened by reporting requirements.

For more information on the Commission see:

Plan of action of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity

WHO Facts and figures on childhood obesity

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