World Obesity Statement to the 72nd Session of the Regional Committee of WHO for the Americas

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58th DIRECTING COUNCIL  

72nd SESSION OF THE REGIONAL COMMITTEE OF WHO FOR THE AMERICAS

Virtual Session, 28-29 September 2020 
 
World Obesity Federation statement endorsed by Instituto Nacional De Salud Pública (México) and Centro Avanzado de Medicina Metabólica y Nutrición (Chile) Agenda item 4.2 COVID-19 Pandemic in the Region of the Americas  

Intervention by Ada Cuevas 
 
World Obesity Federation commends the World Health Organization (WHO) and its member states in the PAHO region for their action to control this pandemic. While we welcome the Resolution CE166.R5 [2020]), we wish to draw attention to one important issue missing from the current text that must be discussed today. 
 
Obesity is a chronic disease that independently increases mortality rates and is a major risk factor for the three non-communicable diseases (NCDs) responsible for the majority of premature deaths in the region - type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Mounting evidence also now shows that obesity is a major risk factor for COVID-19 complications and mortality. It is vital that we focus on improving the health and reducing the vulnerability of people living with or affected by or at risk of developing obesity, while continuing work to reduce the double burden of malnutrition through comprehensive, multisectorial action. 
 
World Obesity’s Global Atlas on Childhood Obesity predicts that, by 2025, over 18% of children aged 5-19  (42 million) will be living with obesity in the Americas. This will be the highest prevalence of childhood in the world if urgent action is not taken. No country in the region is on track to meet WHO obesity targets. In the current economic climate, the rising costs of obesity and obesity-related disease are an imperative to act: it is estimated that the cost of high BMI to health services in the Americas is US$ 670 billion per year, nearly 18% of all healthcare expenditure. 
 
In the context of COVID-19 these facts and figures have a new urgency. As you meet today, we urge governments to embed the following considerations in their national strategies for COVID-19 in the short- and long-term: 
  • Ensure that nutritionally adequate food is made available for all, particularly for vulnerable populations.
  • Restrict donations of ultra-processed foods and breast milk substitutes within the COVID19 response.
  • Regulate marketing of ultra-processed foods and breast milk substitutes, with special attention to digital and social media channels.  
  • Ensure that policies and restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 allow for people to be physically active, while maintaining safe distance.
  • Ensure that people living with NCDs are tested early care and provided appropriate care. 
  • Ensure NCD patients have continued access to medication and treatment. 

World Obesity Statement to the 72nd Session of the Regional Committee of WHO for the Americas

Statement to the 72nd Session of the regional committee of WHO for the Americas

World Obesity Federation statement endorsed by Instituto Nacional De Salud Pública (México) and Centro Avanzado de Medicina Metabólica y Nutrición (Chile) Agenda item 4.2 COVID-19 Pandemic in the Region of the Americas

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