Social programs and reducing obesity in Peru: reflections from the research
Keywords:Obesity, Government programs, Food assistance, Peru
In recent decades, overweight or obesity have increased dramatically in middle- and low-income countries; a situation which consolidates chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD) as one of the leading causes of mortality and disability worldwide. Currently, half the people in Peru over the age of 15 years are overweight, and one fifth suffer from obesity. The situation is worsening and increasingly affects people in poverty, who frequently benefit from food supplement programs designed to combat food insecurity and malnutrition. There is an urgent worldwide need to find policies and programs that help fight the problem of obesity at the population level, a task that is still pending. In this article, we review the current epidemic of overweight and obesity in Peru and the world and its most significant consequences and causes, with an emphasis on access to and availability of foods. We describe the largest food supplement programs and synthesize the research on interventions in order to reflect on how their findings might help social programs work as a platform to reduce obesity and prevent NCD in Peru.