Photo: Obesity in Latin America
The countries of the Americas have the highest obesity rate in the world, said Ecuador’s representative to the Pan American Health Organization on Tuesday.
“Obesity, overweight affects at least one of every two adults and there are already some countries where it is three of every four,” PAHO’s Gina Tambini said in a meeting with reporters in Quito.
She said that this “epidemic” is affecting children and teenagers.
“One in every five children and teenagers is being affected and in some countries it is already one in every three. These are really alarming figures,” Tambini said, adding that the worst thing is that those levels of obesity and overweight are linked with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart problems.
She said that the countries where the situation is the most critical include Mexico, Chile and the nations of the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Michel Guinand, a public policy official with Unicef, said that concern about the problem “is high in Ecuador.”
Data from the national meeting of Health and Nutrition 2011-2013 show that two of every three Ecuadorians between ages 19 and 59 are overweight or obese.
Changes in eating habits, especially increasing the consumption of processed products and junk food, along with low levels of physical activity, have resulted in the overweight problem among the public, according to Ecuador’s Health Ministry.
The government is implementing various policies to maintain good health among the public and, in terms of nutrition it is currently demanding, among other measures, food labeling so that sugar, salt and fat levels, among others, can be more readily determined for each product by consumers.
Quito this week will host the international conference on food labeling and fiscal policies regarding healthy nutrition and the prevention of obesity.