Tackling the Global Youth Obesity Epidemic

A Call to Action on World Obesity Day 2024

A global webinar hosted by UNICEF, WHO, and the World Obesity Federation on March 4th, World Obesity Day 2024, highlighted the alarming rise of obesity among children and adolescents worldwide. Over 390 million young people aged 5-19 are now overweight or obese, with rates in lower income countries skyrocketing.

We are failing the world’s youth regarding nutrition and health,” said Francesco Branca, WHO’s Director of Nutrition and Food Safety. “Obesogenic environments and systems are promoting unhealthy weight gain from an early age.

TheEffects are Stark

The panel of youth speakers put a human face on the crisis, sharing personal stories of stigma, mental health impacts, and denied opportunities.

The prejudice I experienced growing up with obesity led me to found an organization to empower other young people struggling with weight bias and discrimination,” said Rahaf Abu Mayyaleh, founder of 4Health in Jordan.

Long-term health consequences are also looming. “With earlier and prolonged exposure to obesity, we are seeing adult diseases like diabetes striking youth at unprecedented rates,” explained nursing student Leticia Cunha of Brazil.

Time for Action

The webinar marked the launch of WHO’s Acceleration Plan to curb the rise of obesity worldwide. Young people are positioned to play a catalytic role given their first-hand experience and passion for change.

We urgently need a global youth movement to tackle this crisis from all angles – from policy and healthcare reforms to reshaping environments and attitudes,” urged Katrina Tiambeng, a youth policy advocate from the Philippines.

UNICEF is embarking on a new initiative called Reimagining Equality to address the structural inequities that disproportionately expose disadvantaged children to obesity risks.

Pierre Cooke, an advisor with the SUN Movement, called for youth voices to be elevated at decision-making tables: “You have the power to create ripple effects in your communities and beyond.”

The time for action is now to ensure the next generation can achieve their fullest potential free from the burden of obesity.


Anjali is an experienced and acclaimed health and wellness writer known for her informative articles published on premier news websites. With over 5 years of experience translating complex nutritional research into understandable advice.

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