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Unhealthy foods causing obesity

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13th-Oct-2017       
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BANGLADESH, traditionally known for a large number of underweight children, is now facing an increase in the number of obese children due to food marketing, pricing, and a low scope for quality workouts.  A recent survey, reported by The New Nation, stated that Bangladesh is facing the 'dual burden' of both malnutrition and obesity as the fast-food market is mostly unregulated with no government policy to control pricing and advertisements . In Bangladesh, the obesity among boys was found 3 percent in 2016 which was only 0.03 percent in 1975. Among girls, the rate jumped to 2.3 percent from almost nil four decades ago. To produce a fit workforce necessary for the country's growing economy, the government must devise a policy to control obesity, junk food, and street food and promote essential workout arrangement for urban children mainly.

The obesity trend reflects the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe, with healthy nutritious foods being too expensive for poor families and communities. It is worrying that a generation of children and adolescents are growing up obese and at greater risk of diseases. We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially to poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods. In 2016, the global number of moderately or severely underweight girls and boys was 75 million and 117 million respectively. The threat of malnutrition - underweight and overweight young people living in the same communities is also present  here.

To curb obesity, World Health Organization has asked the countries to reduce consumption of cheap, ultra-processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor foods. Consumption of energy-dense foods, especially highly processed carbohydrates, which lead to weight gain, should be discouraged. Children who are  spending  time on screen-based and sedentary leisure activities should be  motivated by promoting their  participation in physical activities through active recreation and sports. To decrease the trend of obesity, Mexico imposed 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages two years back to prevent and control obesity.

We are facing the two-edged problem where malnourished children and obesity are in nearby percentages and with the decrease of malnourished children the obese is growing among urban families. Surely, junk food is the prime factor but passing  time online instead of workouts and sports surely has a great contribution. As curbing obesity is a key element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the government should be sincere enough to regulate fast food culture.

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