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Health Hum Rights. 2016 Jun;18(1):249-262.

Childhood Obesity and the Right to Health.

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PhD Fellow at the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen.


Childhood obesity is now a global health epidemic, yet the obligations of states to prevent obesity through fulfillment of the right to health have received limited consideration. This article examines the childhood obesity recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (the committee on the CRC), the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. It suggests how their engagement might be strengthened. It concludes that the final report of the World Health Organization's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity could provide the committee on the CRC with a more systematic basis for advising and assessing preventive measures taken by states. Moreover, while the interim report envisages a central role for states in childhood obesity prevention, it pays inadequate attention to their obligations under international human rights law. It is hoped that this will be remedied in the final report through the adoption of a child-centered approach inspired by the rights to health and play, and the general principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

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