G20 puts childhood obesity at the forefront of its agenda

At a press conference during the G20 Health Ministerial Meeting today, representatives from Argentina, Japan and Germany agreed on the importance of raising awareness on childhood obesity.

Satisfied with the meeting’s conclusions, Adolfo Rubinstein, Argentine Secretary of Health; Thomas Gebhart, German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health; and Chieko Ikeda, Japanese Senior Assistant Minister for Global Health, gave a press conference on the highlights of the G20 Health Ministerial Meeting at the HN Provincial Hotel in Mar del Plata.

Rubinstein emphasized the progress made over several Health Working Group meetings in 2018 and praised the conversations held by the heads of delegation attending the ministerial meeting. “We have added many issues of global importance to the G20 agenda, such as the expansion of Universal Health Coverage, prevention and control of childhood overweight and obesity, and antimicrobial resistance.”  

The Argentine health secretary alluded specifically to advances on developing policies to prevent malnutrition in children and teenagers. “This is a problem that affects most of the countries around the world, but has become almost a pandemic in developing countries,” Rubinstein explained. “We need to work to improve food systems, from production to consumption,” he added.

German Parliamentary State Secretary Gebhart said that including childhood overweight and obesity on the agenda is a “major step forward.” He underscored the need for people to have access to healthy food. “It is necessary that there is an awareness about what is healthy food and what is not healthy food. It is necessary that people, parents, families know what is healthy, and that is much about information campaigns,” the German representative said. “Countries can learn from each other,” he added.

Japanese Senior Assistant Minister Ikeda said that “access is a very important issue, but we need to keep in mind that that the first thing is education.”

Senior officials also spoke about antimicrobial resistance, one of the key issues on the meeting’s agenda. Gebhart said that antibiotics have contributed to reducing the impact of severe bacterial diseases. He emphasized that antimicrobial resistance is currently causing thousands of deaths around the world every year. “The health and economic consequences require action at all levels, nationally and internationally. No country can solve this alone,” he explained.

Upcoming agenda

This afternoon, senior health officials are taking part in a simulation exercise to find strategic solutions to a possible global health crisis. The exercise will recreate the outbreak of a particular multi-drug bacterial strain. Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government, Professor Dame Sally Davies, and Argentine journalist and doctor Nelson Castro are facilitating the exercise.