- Apr 12 2017
The report on the social and economic costs of obesity in the region serves as a call to action to tackle Latin America’s biggest public health challenge: obesity.
In Latin America, as elsewhere, it is little surprise to find that overweight and obesity have followed a number of population level developments:
- rural-urban migration
- changes in the nature of work (less manual for a growing middle-class)
- increased access to inexpensive processed food
- other changes in lifestyle such as screen-based entertainment
What is remarkable is the speed of change and there is now no shortage of statistics on obesity in Latin America. They paint a complex picture of development in relation to nutrition and diet, behaviour, public policy, marketing, advertising and health programs in the region. To help make sense of the complexity, the Dialogue discussed:
- what is ‘obesity’?
- what are the social and economic costs of obesity and where are they seen?
- what does ‘obesity’ mean in Latin America?
- what is the difference between adult obesity and child obesity?
- what are the responsibilities and successes of the public, private and NGO sectors?
- what are the most significant risks and opportunities?
- what should be done?
The main hurdles to tackling obesity were found to range from a lack of perception and awareness of overweight and obesity to inadequate governance and a lack of cross-sector collaboration. None of the hurdles are easy to overcome as they need a combination of planning for the long term and immediate action, present population level risks and require individual, community and population level engagement. At the same time, they are highly political and include significant resource allocation trade-offs but not one of them is a majority election vote winner.
Indeed, one of the best ways to tackle obesity in Latin America may be to look ‘beyond the navel’ to other similar challenges - to climate change and demographic change – to work together and achieve the popular support necessary to inspire new forms of governance that will feel empowered to address these pressing 21st century challenges to our Quality of Life. This is precisely what is being planned for a follow-up Dialogue to take place in Brazil in late 2017.
Download the report on The social and economic costs of obesity in Latin America: a call to action
With experts from academia, civil society and business drawn from Mexico, Chile and Brazil, the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life held its first round-table ‘Dialogue’ in Latin America near Santiago de Chile in November 2016.
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