Through an ambitious global partnership, Novo Nordisk and UNICEF are taking a lead role in the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity across the world.

The partnership goal is to contribute to the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity by building healthy environments that enable and empower children to eat well and be active. A key focus of the partnership is to advocate for systemic changes to shift the focus on childhood overweight and obesity away from individual behavior and towards enabling environments and society.

Overweight and obesity affect around 40 million children under 5 and more than 340 million children and adolescents aged 5–19.1 This puts them at risk of developing early onset of type 2 diabetes, and is a strong predictor of adult obesity.2 Child overweight can also contribute to emotional difficulties and can lead to stigmatisation, poor socialization and reduced educational attainment.3

Nearly three quarters of these children and adolescents live in low- and middle-income countries.4 The Latin America & the Caribbean and East Asia & the Pacific regions alone, are home to nearly half of the world’s children under the age of five living with overweight or obesity. and where UNICEF and partners are working most actively on the prevention agenda.

The Novo Nordisk and UNICEF partnership was launched in 2019. In 2023, the partnership was extended for an additional three-year period.

Building on learnings from the first phase of the partnership, we are scaling our work to prevent childhood overweight and obesity by deepening our efforts in Latin America while also expanding to East Asia & the Pacific. Beyond these regions, the partnership will be catalytic for broader global efforts with sharing of best practices, tools, and resources.

A large and authoritative body of evidence suggests that the increasing availability, affordability and promotion of foods high in fats, sugar and salt is the major driver of the rise of overweight over the past 30 – 40 years.5 Combined with rapid urbanisation, these transformations are changing the face of malnutrition globally. This points to the critical importance of creating healthy food environments for all children. When nutritious foods are affordable, convenient, and desirable, children and families can make better food choices.

At the same time, complementary actions via the health, social protection and education systems are needed.6 While very few countries have successfully ’turned the tide’ on childhood overweight, promising strategies are emerging at national and city levels.7

Photo of child eating lunch

Photo of three young persons smiling

Photo of young persons eating lunch

  • The partnership has benefitted 2.7 million children and caregivers across Latin America and Caribbean through direct programmatic reach and Social and Behavior Change Communication.
  • The partnership has contributed to new perspectives on the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity with knowledge and tools which have been accessed in more than 30 countries.
  • The partnership has strengthened policies in Mexico and Colombia to protect, promote and support child nutrition and health.

1. World Health Organization. Obesity and Overweight. [Online] World Health Organization. Available at:

2. World Health Organization. Noncommunicable Diseases: Childhood Overweight and Obesity, October 2019. Available at:

3. World Health Organization. Report of the Commission on Ending. Childhood Obesity, 2016. 9789241510066_eng.pdf (

4. Word Health Organization. Obesity and Overweight. [Online] World Health Organization. Available at:

5. Swinburn, Boyd A., et al. (2011). The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments

6. UNICEF Nutrition Strategy 2020-2030. UNICEF Nutrition Strategy 2020-2030.pdf

7. World Obesity Federation, 2021: Addressing childhood obesity through city-level interventions | World Obesity Federation