18:28 GMT09 April 2020
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    Obesity could be spread among people living in close proximity, similarly to contagious diseases, according to a new report by researchers from the University of Southern California and think tank Rand Corp.

    Radio Sputnik discussed the findings with Louise Baur, Professor of child and adolescent health at the University of Sydney’s Westmead Clinical School.

    Sputnik: Is there a general concern globally about the state of children’s health and what that potential damage can do to their health moving forward?

    Louise Baur: Well, certainly, overweight and obesity is much more common than it was two, three or four decades ago, not only among adults, but among children and adolescents as well. And not just in the USA and other westernized countries, but it’s now recognized as an issue in many low- and middle-income countries too. It’s a global issue and we should be broadly concerned about the health of adolescents who will be carrying health risks with them into young adulthood and potentially into starting their own families down the track. This study is suggesting that the environments in which you live have a big influence on you and that they can also influence people around you. What your friends do in terms of what they choose to eat or choose to be physically active, you are likely to do exactly the same sort of things.

    Sputnik: What can you suggest in terms of enhancing education about healthy lifestyles?

    Louise Baur: Education is certainly part of the solution and we want school environments and media to support messages about healthy eating, sleeping, physical; activities. If you happen to live in an environment with easy access to safe walk ways, pedestrian paths and lots of green spaces, you are going to be a lot more active. Likewise, if you have access to healthy food choices nearby, you are more likely to eat well than when you are surrounded by fast food restaurants. We also need to think within families about how we are role modeling to our young people, and at schools —what we are actually teaching, if we are providing fun physical education programs, if we have school canteens offering healthy food, or if we are selling very unhealthy food there.

    READ MORE: Britain's Fat Shame: Obesity Levels Make Nation Worst in Europe

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Louise Baur and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    physical activity, healthy environment, teenage obesity, healthy food, University of Sydney, RAND Corporation, University of Southern California (USC), Louise Baur, Australia
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