The numbers of Irish children defined as obese has soared, following global trends according to a new WHO report
A new WHO report, Ending Childhood Obesity, urges governments to act to limit the marketing of unhealthy high-calorie and sugar-laden food products and drinks aimed at children.
Ireland has already acted and introduced a sugar tax in yesterday's Budget but the country still faces a major problem, with the report revealing that almost one in 10 children in Ireland is obese.
Nine per cent of girls and 10.2 per cent of boys are obese according to the latest global examination of childhood obesity.
The raft of guidelines in the report call for disadvantaged communities to be given better access to healthy foods and for measures to ensure that physical activity is part of the "daily routine and curriculum" in schools and other child-care facilities.
Professor Fiona Bull, a member of the WHO working group that spent two years compiling the report, launched ahead of World Obesity Day on October 11, said: "We need to turn our concern into action - more action and more widespread action.
"We are surrounded by environments which market unhealthy, high fat, high sugar, high calorie food. That's what's on the TV, that's what's promoted at bus stops, and that's what children are seeing all day, every day.
"The promotion and the price and the specials, the two-for-ones, the super-sizing - these are the problems that drive overweight and obesity, over-consumption."
Prof Bull was speaking at a briefing in London to launch both the WHO report and a major study highlighting soaring rates of childhood and adolescent obesity around the world.
The research, published in The Lancet medical journal, pulled together data from 31.5 million children and teenagers aged five to 19 who took part in more than 2,000 studies.
It found that globally, the estimated number of obese children and teenagers had risen 10-fold in the past four decades.
Between 1975 and 2016 the number of obese boys in the world went up from six million to 74 million, while a similar trend for girls showed an increase from five to 50 million.
While obesity rates among young people in Europe and the US were said to have plateaued, the authors stressed it was still a serious problem in these regions.
Dr James Bentham, a member of the international team from the University of Kent, said: "This is not an excuse for complacency as more than one in five young people in the USA and one in 10 in the UK are obese."