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Obesity Rises Among Children in Developing Countries

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report. The World Health Organization says there has been an increase in the number of children in developing countries who weigh too much. In African countries, the WHO says the number of overweight or obese children is two times as high as it was 20 years ago. Around the world, about 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011.

Doctors use height, weight and age to measure whether a person is underweight, normal, overweight or obese. Overweight and obese children are more likely to become overweight and obese adults. They are also at risk of developing health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Francesco Branca is the director of the WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. He says governments should consider providing vitamins for children. And they should have policies on how food is marketed to children. But reducing the number of overweight children will not be easy. The goal is difficult to meet, even in wealthy countries.

Experts say lowering obesity rates is especially complex in countries that also have high rates of infectious diseases. But the WHO has some basic solutions. The organization says people should eat less fat, sugar, salt and processed food. This can be replaced with more fruits and vegetables and increased physical activity. These goals are especially important for children. The WHO also says mothers should breastfeed their babies for at least the first six months, if possible. The current goal for the WHO's World Health Assembly is to prevent any increase in the percentage of overweight children in the next 12 years.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.