A change in approach could save 3.7m lives by 2025, WHO estimated. It could also bring countries closer to the goal of achieving universal health coverage – one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The WHO’s Essential Nutrition Actions publication is a compilation of nutrition actions to provide a tool for countries to integrate nutrition interventions into their national health and development policies.
By bringing nutrition to the fore, WHO believes progress can be made to stem rising levels of obesity. The prevalence of children considered overweight rose from 4.8% to 5.9% between 1990 and 2018, an increase of over 9 million children. Adult overweight and obesity are also rising in nearly every region and country, with 1.3 billion people overweight in 2016, of which 650 million (13% of the world’s population) are obese.
Obesity is linked to higher risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
WHO stressed that improving nutrition at a population level brings economic benefits. Every dollar spent on basic nutrition programmes returning US$16 to the local economy, the organisation claimed.
Investment in nutrition actions will help countries get closer to their goal of achieving universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. It can also help the economy, with every US$1 spent by donors on basic nutrition programmes returning US$16 to the local economy
“Nutrition should be positioned as one of the cornerstones of essential health packages,” said Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General at WHO. “We also need better food environments which allow all people to consume healthy diets.”
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