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Childhood obesity – a public health issue to be addressed in the Middle East for the health of future generations
Obesity has reached epidemic levels and is a significant public health and social problem. Countries working towards prevention of malnutrition in children are also faced with the challenge of preventing child obesity. Obesity in children has long-term physical and mental health effects that last into adulthood and become an economic burden to the individual and to the nation. A lifestyle of sedentary behaviour and unhealthy eating habits is a major governing factor. Fewer facilities for physical activity in schools and residential areas promote an obesogenic environment. Unhealthy food marketing through electronic media is gaining the attention of children and adolescents. Various interventions for child obesity have been implemented effectively in developed countries, and developing countries are also beginning to apply some of these interventions. Enforcing strategies and policies for healthy living and developing healthy environments for children would curb rising obesity levels and promote healthier future generations and a better economy.