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Are kids prepared for 100 healthy years?

World Health Organization statistics show that today’s children are likely to be the first to live 100 years, as global life expectancy continues to increase. During the Global Consumer Health Debate, The United Nations (UN), UNICEF, UNAIDS, World Obesity Federation and McKinsey discuss how children can live 100 healthy years.

“One thing is for certain: the earlier we start working with kids on how to look after themselves, the better the long-term impacts,” states Uta Kemmerich-Keil, CEO and President of the Consumer Health business of Merck. “If this debate helped strengthen the health education for my own kids here in Germany, as much as children from Brazil to India, then we are getting better at building a global future of healthy adults, able to enjoy a long life to the fullest.”

The event states the findings of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) white paper: “Kids and Old Age.” This worldwide study describes what can be done to better prepare kids for a long and healthy life, according to parents, educators, policy makers, research institutions, and development actors.

Key findings include:
  • Today’s children will be less healthy than today’s adults over 65 when they reach that age.
  • Lifestyle-related problems are likely to contribute to chronic disease in later life and are already causing health problems among children.
  • Across the five countries surveyed, schools are targeting the main perceived problems, such as lack of exercise, but are ignoring mental health issues.
  • There is little evidence that such school education programs are managing to stem rising rates of obesity and mental disorders.

The debate highlights how the world’s childhood lessons are drawn from far beyond our homes and schools, such as community efforts and policy-level support. The key message is that by working together on complementary efforts that our kids will be better equipped to become tomorrow’s healthy adults and elderly.

International panels include government representatives of South Africa (Ministry of Basic Education), UN representatives of education, children’s and health priorities (UNICEF, Every Woman for Every Child/UN, UNAIDS), Brazilian and Indian community-based organizations (Inmed Brazil, Smile Foundation) having huge impacts on the ground, business consultants to the health industry (McKinsey), and the World Obesity Federation.

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