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Monday January 30, 2023

Due to unhealthy lifestyle Pakistani children are stunted, suffer from obesity, overweight: WHO

A large number of children in Pakistan are stunted and severely malnourished while around 6-8 per cent of school-going children below 10 years of age are obese and overweight due to unhealthy lifestyles, WHO officials say

By Our Correspondent
October 28, 2022
An AFP file photo of WHO.
An AFP file photo of WHO.

ISLAMABAD: A large number of children in Pakistan are stunted and severely malnourished while around 6-8 per cent of school-going children below 10 years of age are obese and overweight due to unhealthy lifestyles, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Thursday.

“Our lifestyle has changed in recent years and we are facing more Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). When we look at the nutrition issue in Pakistan, we see stunting as the biggest problem while severe acute malnutrition has a very high threshold, but on the other hand, obesity is also on the rise. Around 6-8 per cent school going children under the age of 10 are obese and overweight”, Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO’s representative to Pakistan told a medical conference here at a local hotel.

National and international health experts were attending the three-day ‘3rd International Lifestyle Medical Conference 2022’, organized by the Riphah International University (RIU) in collaboration with the Pakistan Association of Lifestyle Medicine.

Citing the WHO’s global status report on physical activity 2022, Dr Palitha Mahipala said almost 500 million people will develop heart disease, obesity, diabetes or other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) attributable to physical inactivity, between 2020 and 2030, costing US$ 27 billion annually if governments don’t take urgent action to encourage more physical activity among their populations.

“Annually 55 million deaths occur across the globe, of which 41 million or 70 per cent of deaths take place due to non-communicable diseases, which are lifestyle diseases. Of them, only cardiovascular disease caused 17.5 million deaths globally. The leading risk factor for this lifestyle disease is smoking, followed by an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity”, Dr Palitha Mahipala said.

He further claimed that around 50 per cent of women were also either obese or overweight in Pakistan while the remaining were facing issues like malnutrition and called for spending more on lifestyle medicine, health promotion and prevention from diseases.

Chancellor of the Riphah International University (RIU) Islamabad Hassan Muhammad Khan while citing a study by Shaikh Zayed Hospital Lahore, told that life expectancy in Lahore is 8 years lesser than in Islamabad due to environmental pollution and urged the authorities and people to take measures for reducing environmental pollution to live a disease-free life.

“Medical care has become unaffordable for even the largest economies of the world and now they are launching lifestyle and preventive medicine programs to reduce the disease burden. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including cancer are constantly on the rise and one of the reasons is an increase in environmental pollution. Environmental pollution is linked to reduced life expectancy all over the world including Pakistan”, Hassan Muhammad Khan said.

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