World Obesity Day: A chance to take action

11th October marks #WorldObesityDay, an annual campaign designed to stimulate and support practical actions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis.

The global problem of childhood obesity is very close to our hearts. As a brand, we are passionate about empowering consumers to live healthier lives. Which is why last year we launched #EatLikeAPro, a campaign which, in partnership with FC Barcelona, aims to encourage families and their children around the world to eat healthier food.

Sadly, the obesity epidemic shows no sign of slowing. There are currently 41 million children in the world under the age of five who are overweight and if current trends persist, this number will reach a staggering 70 million by 2025, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Although the problem is most widespread among low and middle-income countries, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking it’s not a problem in Europe. A quarter of 2–10-year olds and one third of 11–15-year olds in the UK are overweight or obese and in Germany the UN reported that 6.9% of girls and 11.2% of boys were obese in 2016. Elsewhere in Europe the figures are even higher with 13% and 15% in Spain and Italy respectively.

So, what does this mean for future generations?

Overweight children are a major concern because they face both immediate and long-term detrimental effects to their health and well-being. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are just a few of the physical problems overweight children may face. What’s more, obesity can contribute to behavioural and emotional difficulties such as depression, which can lead to stigmatisation, poor socialisation and poor academic achievements.

We have to ask ourselves, what kind of future do our children face if they cannot live active, healthy and happy lives? Childhood obesity is a strong predictor of adult obesity, we should understand the fundamental role of prevention at the earliest possible stages of a child’s life.

As a father of three children, I know how difficult it is to get your children to eat healthier food. Which is why I am particularly passionate about driving change through #EatLikeAPro.

By showing children what their football heroes eat, our aim is to make healthy food exciting. And through providing a wide range of appliances featuring smart and helpful technologies to deliver healthy food at its best, we are proud to support families all around the world.

To date, #EatLikeAPro has been a huge success and I am proud to say that earlier this year, Beko raised 1 million euros for UNICEF to help combat the growing childhood obesity problem in partnership with FCB. The funds will be used by UNICEF to implement a programme designed to improve the eating habits of 600,000 primary school-age children in Latin America, where 23% of children are either overweight or obese.

Specifically, we have three key aims:

· Improve nutrition ‘literacy’ amongst students and families through sensitisation campaigns to raise community awareness about the importance of a healthy diet in children

· Improve access in schools around the world to healthy foods and beverages

· Promote and encourage the provision of daily physical exercise

We strongly believe the solution to the growing obesity epidemic is to embed preventative measures and as such, there is an opportunity for schools, parents, and decision-makers to ensure children set out in life with the best lifestyle habits to succeed and be happy. We hope these initiatives go some way in tackling the problem.

But our work doesn’t stop here. I am delighted that we have extended our partnership with FC Barcelona over the next three sporting seasons, to continue our mission to help prevent childhood obesity across the globe. It’s also fantastic that we now have Gerard Pique as our global Eat Like A Pro ambassador and we’ll be working closely with him to continue to inspire future generations to live healthier.

As we look ahead to 2019 and beyond, and our partnership with UNICEF and FC Barcelona, we remain dedicated to continuing to drive awareness and education around the importance of nutrition, exercise, and overall wellness to combat the growing problem of childhood obesity and shape a better future for the children of today.

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To learn more about our Beko Eat Like A Pro initiative and see the FC Barcelona recipes please visit www.beko.com/eatlikeapro

CEO, Arçelik