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HEALTH

‘Too many German kids are overweight’: WHO calls for tighter ad restrictions

More and more children in Germany are much too overweight, according to the World Health Organization, who call for advertisements to be more restricted.

‘Too many German kids are overweight’: WHO calls for tighter ad restrictions
Photo: DPA.

In Germany, obesity among children and adolescents has reached alarming proportions, according to an expert from the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN agency said the problem must be tackled more rigorously and, above all, advertising for sweets, junk food or beer must have more constraints.

“It is not enough to rely on voluntary self-regulation by the producers of junk food in advertising,” nutritionist Juana Willumsen, WHO expert on childhood obesity told the German Press Agency (DPA).

“Advertising must be clearly regulated, compliance must be monitored and there must be penalties for non-compliance.”

Willumsen added that beer was a major culprit in obesity, yet beer advertisements are not prohibited in Germany. This may well contribute to the increasing weight of many adults and young people, she argues.

“Young people are very susceptible to advertising up to the age of 16,” said Willumsen.

WHO recommends more school sports, as well as urban and transport planning that encourages running, cycling and sports activities. According to statistics, schoolchildren in Germany ate less fruit and vegetables in 2014 than in 2002. Moreover, after the consumption of soft drinks had fallen between 2002 and 2006, it started to rise again.

Additional statistics from the NCD-RisC network of scientists used by the WHO found that 6.9 percent of girls and 11.2 percent of boys between the ages of 5 and 19 were obese in Germany in 2016.

In 1980, the figure was only four percent for boys and 8.1 percent in 2000. The weight from which a child is considered to be obese is calculated uniformly throughout the world, taking age and size into account. In 2016,11.3 percent of young people in Austria fell into the category, and seven percent in Switzerland.

However, there are more obese boys in Spain (12.9 percent), Italy (14.5 percent), China (15.4 percent) and the USA (23.3 percent) than in Germany. By contrast, the figure is lower in Great Britain (10.9 percent) and France (8.9 percent). In India, the share was only 2.4 percent.

HEALTH

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens ‘among new infections’

Two teenage boys between the ages of 15-17 have reportedly been infected by monkeypox, as the number of cases in Germany continues to grow.

Monkeypox in Germany: Two teens 'among new infections'

German news site Spiegel Online first reported the new cases – which are an anomaly for a virus as it has mostly affected gay men – following an inquiry to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

They are among a total of 2,677 people who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in Germany to date. There have not been any fatalities.

Out of these, only five cases were women, according to the RKI. The public health institute said that it does not release information on individual cases.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany wants to contain the monkeypox

The disease – which is not usually fatal – often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as through shared items such as bedding and towels.

Many of the cases known so far concern homosexual and bisexual men. However, affected people and experts have repeatedly warned against stigmatising gay communities.

How fatal is the disease?

The first monkeypox cases were reported in Germany on May 20th, as the disease continued to spread in West Europe.

At the weekend, the first two deaths outside of West Africa were reported in Spain.

READ ALSO: WHO warns ‘high’ risk of monkeypox in Europe as it declares health emergency

The RKI has urged people returning from West Africa and in particular gay men, to see their doctors quickly if they notice any chances on their skin.

According to the latest estimates, there are 23,000 monkeypox cases worldwide, and Europe is particularly affected with 14,000 cases.

There have been 2,677 monkeypox cases in Germany as of August 2, 2022. Photo: CDC handout

About eight percent of patients in Europe have been hospitalised so far, reported the World Health Association on Monday, mostly due to severe pain or additional infections.

In general, the mortality of the variant currently circulating in Europe is estimated to be low.

READ ALSO: More cases of monkeypox ‘expected’ in Germany

Will a vaccine make a difference?

Since July, a vaccine has been authorised in 27 EU member states and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. 

The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against monkeypox in Germany for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people.

So far, the German government has ordered 240,000 vaccine doses, of which 40,000 had been delivered by Friday. 

Around 200,000 doses are set to follow by the end of September. 

The German Aids Federation (DAH) on Friday called for one million vaccine doses, stressing that the current supplies will fall short of meeting need.

“The goal must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and to get the epidemic permanently under control,” explained Ulf Kristal of the DAH board in Berlin on Friday.

But this is only possible, he said, if as many people at risk of infection as possible are vaccinated.

“We don’t assume the epidemic will be over when the doses available so far have been vaccinated,” Axel Jeremias Schmidt, Epidemiologist and DAH Consultant for Medicine and Health Policy, wrote in a press release.

As long as there are monkeypox infections, he said, people who are at risk must be offered vaccination. 

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