Report: 1 in 10 Filipino Children Obese

Law group seeks regulation on unhealthy food marketing to children

World Obesity Day – Public interest law group ImagineLaw warned on Saturday of the rapidly increasing rate of obesity cases among Filipino children.

“Childhood obesity is harmful and deadly,” said ImagineLaw Executive Director Atty. Sophia San Luis citing data from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that about one in every ten children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years old is either overweight or obese.

Obesity, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is the abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in the body. It is a form of malnutrition that presents health risks.

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines also warned that this number will increase by 30% in 2030 if no action is taken to curb factors. “Three in 10 Filipino children are likely to be either overweight or obese by 2030,” said San Luis. “Habang tumatanda, tumataas din ang tyansa nila na magkaroon ng heart disease, diabetes, cancer, at depresyon,” she added.

Regulation to Unhealthy Food Marketing Sought

One of the biggest drivers of childhood obesity is the availability and aggressive promotion of unhealthy food and sweetened beverages to children, according to ImagineLaw. Children are now bombarded with advertisements that encourage unhealthy eating behaviors.

In a 2021 UNICEF study that surveyed social media posts and videos on food marketing, 99% of these 1035 sample posts were found to promote unhealthy food and are not suitable for children based on WHO standards. In the same report, social media influencers who appeal to children also receive food sponsorships.

“If we want to protect our children from childhood obesity, we need to create a healthier food environment that makes healthy food choices easier,” said San Luis. “We cannot expect kids to refrain from eating unhealthy food, while at the same time allowing businesses to constantly entice them to eat it,” San Luis added.

ImagineLaw said that they will be convening stakeholders and parents to develop and push for legislation that will curb unhealthy food marketing to children. “It is high time to protect Filipino children from unhealthy food marketing,” said San Luis. “Regulating unhealthy food marketing will protect children’s lives,” she also said.

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