Australian expert invited to participate in the World Health Organization Working Group on Ending Childhood Obesity

Many countries, including Australia, are experiencing a rapid rise in obesity and overweight among infants and children.  If current trends continue, the number of obese or overweight infants and children under five years of age will reach 70 million globally by 2025. 

This is an increasing problem for lower and middle income countries as well as more developed nations.

The World Health Organization states that ‘tackling childhood obesity now represents an important opportunity to reduce the impact of heart disease, diabetes and other serious diseases in future – while immediately improving the health of children.’

To combat this increasing problem, the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan, has recently established a high-level Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.   At present, there is a lack of consensus on the most effective approaches to preventing and addressing childhood obesity in different contexts around the world. The aim of this Commission is to gather the best possible advice on dealing with the crisis of childhood obesity. 

Professor Louise Baur AM, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health and a Consultant Paediatrician at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead has been invited to be a member of a new Working Group which will advise WHO on relevant science and evidence.  Professor Baur is Head of Weight Management Services, a multidisciplinary clinical service for obese children at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and is an expert on obesity prevention, complications and management; the impact of food marketing to children and the measurement of body composition, dietary intake and physical activity in young people.

“I am honoured and very pleased to be invited to contribute to this important World Health Organization initiative” said Professor Baur.

Professor Baur will be a member of the Working Group on Science and Evidence for Ending Child Obesity. This working group will examine all available evidence on prevention of childhood obesity and how to reverse it in affected children; and determine the best combination of policies to put in place to achieve these goals.

“It is hoped that the recommendations of this Commission will help to reduce global childhood obesity rates which have reached crisis proportions” Professor Baur continued.

The first meeting of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity will take place on July 17 to 18 in Geneva. At that meeting the Commissioners will consider the initial findings and recommendations of the Working Group.