With more than 800 people worldwide affected by obesity and millions more at risk, World Obesity Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and enhance the call for cross-cutting policies to address the burden of this life-altering disease.
Moreover, the associated comorbidities such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as stigma, the risk of a psychiatric diagnosis, especially among the pediatric population, reflect the reality of a complex condition with extremely serious social and psychological dimensions. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic with the lockdown is likely to have contributed to the further growth in obesity, undermining the wellbeing of our citizens and placing huge strains on our societies.
There is a clear case for immediate and unwavering action to curb the projections of this silent pandemic that continue to increase its pace, and evidence of the gains through reducing the risk factors have built up over time. Adopting a balanced lifestyle and a healthy diet has a significant contribution to reducing the risk of obesity. Individual action is important and each of us must act to protect our health.
However, individual responsibility is not enough, it must be doubled by the action of the authorities to educate citizens to make healthier choices. Prioritizing the prevention and health literacy of our populations remains crucial to generating healthy behaviors and reducing preventable mortality.
With both the adoption of specific targets in its strategic documents and operational plans as well as within the projects developed over the years, the SEEHN has consistently advocated for a comprehensive multi-stakeholder policy, including both communication and awareness-raising but also broader fiscal and regulatory measures to effectively tackle obesity.
SEE Health Network has started its efforts back in 2020. SEEHN organized a Round Table with the SEEHN RHDC on NCDs from Montenegro on the “Reduction of Childhood Malnutrition and Control of Marketing of Unhealthy Food and Beverages Impact”, held on 25 February 2020, Podgorica, Montenegro. The Round table was the launching activity with overall objective to reduce childhood malnutrition by focusing especially on obesity and to enable healthy lifestyle choices from the early age among children.
Improving the information on nutrients displayed on food labels, regulating the marketing of food are examples of policies that have emerged in recent years. But there is so much to do. In addition, for that, we need strong commitment, inspiring leadership, cross-sectoral collaboration, and cooperation efforts, capacity building, and coordination of synergies at national, regional and global level.