Global Nutrition Targets 2025: Childhood overweight policy brief

World Health Organization

childhood overweight policy brief cover

Publication details

Editors: World Health Organization
Number of pages: 8
Publication date: 2014
Languages: English (2014), French (2017), Spanish (2017)
WHO reference number: WHO/NMH/NHD/14.6


Policy brief


There has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of children under 5 years of age who are overweight. According to the new 2013 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank estimates (4), between 2000 and 2013, the number of overweight children worldwide increased from 32 million to 42 million. The prevalence of childhood overweight is increasing in all regions of the world, particularly in Africa and Asia.

Between 2000 and 2013, the prevalence of overweight in children under 5 years of age increased from 1% to 19% in southern Africa, and from 3% to 7% in south-east Asia. In terms of regional breakdowns in numbers of overweight children in 2013, there were an estimated 18 million overweight children under 5 years of age in Asia, 11 million in Africa and 4 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Low levels of overweight in children under 5 years of age were observed in the regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, with little change over the last 13 years. Nevertheless, countries with large populations, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and the Plurinational State of Bolivia, observed levels of 7% and higher. If these increasing trends continue, it is estimated that the prevalence of overweight in children under 5 years of age will rise to 11% worldwide by 2025, up from 7% in 2012.

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