“Three to four million new cases could be prevented every year by avoiding overweight and obesity,” says Isabel Mortara, Executive Director of the UICC. “Good habits start early in life, so our focus is on encouraging children to eat a healthy diet and be physically active. An estimated 22 million children under 5 are overweight today, and the problem is growing.”
Ms. Ameera Karam, President of the Board of Friends of Cancer Patients’ said, “The meanings behind this year’s slogan differ from those of previous years, representing children susceptible to cancer due to obesity. This is a problem that is spreading rapidly throughout the world, including the Gulf and the Arab world as a whole, due to unhealthy eating habits and the lack of awareness regarding this issue.”
“Everyone is responsible for the well-being of our children: parents, schools, even countries, through the implementation of the correct medical and family structures. We at Friends of Cancer Patients are fully committed to fighting unhealthy eating habits, spreading awareness in schools, and among parents and government officials to protect present and future generations from this malignant disease,” she added.
The need for the UICC campaign is underlined by Cancer- related beliefs and behaviors, a survey report releases, with new data showing how people fail to realize that the choices they make increase their risk of cancer.
For example, around 40% of people in the Americas, Australia/ New Zealand and western Asia were unaware that being overweight increases their risk of cancer, with even less awareness in other regions.
The survey is the first to provide internationally comparable data on cancer- related beliefs and behavior. The UICC worked with Gallup International affiliates in 2008 to interview over 40,000 respondents in 39 countries. The new report provides a breakdown of data for 8 UN regions.
“Overweight and obesity are part of the casual chain for many cancers,” says Professor David Hill, the president of the UICC. “This is well established in science but not adequately understood in the community. In fact, current lack of public understanding of the link between body weight and cancer probably parallels our attitudes to smoking and cancer in late 1950s.”
World Cancer Day marks the start of a yearlong campaign to encourage parents, teachers, health professionals and decision- makers around the world to promote healthy eating and physical activity among children.
“The accumulated evidence linking overweight and obesity with cancer is largely based on adult studies,” says David Hill. “But healthy lifelong habits are best established in early childhood.”
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