World Obesity Day 2022: Everybody needs to act – with and for youth
This World Obesity Day, everyone needs to act. We need to join forces to advocate for action to address rising levels of childhood obesity and to improve the systems that contribute to obesity around the world.
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Obesity is anticipated to impact over 100 million children under the age of five and over 150 million adolescents under the age of 19 by 2030, accounting for roughly one-eighth of all children and adolescents worldwide (12.91%).
Children living with overweight, and obesity are at a higher risk of poor physical and mental health, as well as being bullied and having lower school attendance and academic achievement. Increased action on childhood obesity offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to avert ill health later in life and to promote healthy and productive communities with narrowing socioeconomic disparities.
Involving youth is important
Recognising this, and the central role youth play in the development of policies now and in the future, CO-CREATE has made great strides to work with young people to encourage advocacy and improve childhood obesity-related policies. In 2021, the CO-CREATE Youth Task Force took the international floor by participating in an Independent UN Food Systems Dialogue.
Young people met with policymakers and business leaders regionally and nationally, by coordinating and convening their National Dialogue Forum in Portugal. CO-CREATE’s first Youth Alliance in South Africa was established. Perhaps, and even more impressive, young people showed persistence in advocating for the demands of the Youth Declaration through various fora including webinars and podcasts.
Everyone needs to act
This World Obesity Day, we need to continue to turn the tide. We need to join forces to advocate for action to address rising levels of childhood obesity and to improve the systems that contribute to obesity around the world.
– Obesity needs to be addressed, especially when it’s affecting growing children more each day. We need to focus on creating healthier environments - where choosing more nutritious meals doesn’t mean paying more or choosing to play sports in their free time doesn’t mean less time to focus on school. Governments and policymakers have the responsibility to create these opportunities, says Mafalda Goncalves, CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Task Force member
How will you(th) continue to take action
What actions will you(th) take in the coming weeks and months to improve the food and physical activity environments?
1. Youth will discuss priorities for the EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity
CO-CREATE will collaborate with the European Youth Parliament (EYP) to convene 12 young delegates between March 7th-9th to discuss the priorities for addressing childhood obesity in the updated version of the EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity which expired in 2020. Building on a debate held by STOP, CO-CREATE’s partner project, it will identify whether youth priorities and their perceived optimal interventions are aligned with other stakeholders. The expected outcome of the Committee work is a resolution to be submitted and debated – possibly amended - at the EYP General Assembly on March 11th.
2. Youth will connect at the CO-CREATE Youth Conference in Norway
In three weeks, between March 25th-27th, CO-CREATE will convene a Youth Conference in at Sundvollen, Norway, connecting youth advocates across Europe to learn more about and provide feedback on the project’s processes and tools. They will not only deliberate communication strategies but discuss actions that can be taken at the local, national, and global levels to give everybody the best chance to live happier, healthier, and longer lives. The CO-CREATE Youth Declaration that was adopted at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns will be presented in person, allowing youth to strengthen and refine their collective call to action.
– As an adolescent who encounters enthusiastic youth advocates daily, I strongly believe that we all bring some bright and innovative ideas to the table and, therefore, our voices concerning global issues should be considered by decision-makers as valuable, says Zuzanna Burzynska, CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Task Force member.
There is no single important intervention to tackle obesity
The complexity of the problem calls on us to connect and involve youth advocates across different disciplines and geographies to better understand optimal responses to the societal challenge at hand. It also calls for stakeholders to work with youth, for youth by increasing equitable financing, legislating mandatory representation of young people in conversations (at institutional and national levels), and employing them in programme planning and implementation.
On World Obesity Day and beyond, ‘Everybody Needs to Act’. To learn more today, watch CO-CREATE’s new video showcasing the perspectives of some of the different key stakeholders involved in the project. They highlight the importance of co-creating policies and ensuring that all stakeholders are adequately represented in the response to the global obesity epidemic.
This article was authored by Claudia Selin Batz, Policy and Projects Coordinator, World Obesity Federation.
CO-CREATE (GA No 774210), a five-year (2018–2023) research project funded through an EU Horizon 2020 grant, aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adolescents in Europe through policy actions to promote a healthier food and physical activity environment. CO-CREATE vision is that before 2025, the rise in adolescent obesity will have come to a halt.
Visit the Website: www.co-create.eu
Follow the Twitter account: @EU_COCREATE.