Norway offers a lot to its children – especially when it comes to health. Germany ranks 14th in international comparison, but the UN study also states that no country in the world protects its children comprehensively.
According to a UN study, children and adolescents in Norway, South Korea and the Netherlands have the best chance of thriving. According to a UN study, France and Ireland come fourth and fifth, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Germany is ranked 14th, Switzerland is one place behind.
Data on health, schooling and nutrition were included in the index. The authors of the study identified climate change, environmental degradation, obesity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use as risk factors for children.
In African countries in particular, children suffer from poor living conditions, and girls and boys in countries with violence and conflict are particularly affected, the study says. The worst hit are the children in the Central African Republic, which came in 180th and thus last place of all the countries examined. Chad came in 179th, Somalia in 178th place.
Not a single country offers everything
Overall, the authors of the study note that no country in the world adequately protects children’s health, environmental conditions, and future prospects.
In poorer countries, it is estimated that 250 million children underdeveloped because of malnutrition to such an extent that they could not exploit their potential throughout their lives, the authors said. Richer countries endanger the future of children worldwide due to their high climate-damaging CO2 emissions. “We agree with Greta Thunberg,” said health expert Anthony Costello. “Our world is on fire.”
If sustainability is taken into account when considering emissions, Norway only comes in 156th place, the Netherlands in 160th place and Germany in 161st place. Because of their low emissions, Burundi, Chad and Somalia are in first place – but they cut on the scale of Wellbeing of their children in terms of health, nutrition and education.
Of the countries in which young people are doing relatively well (Top 70), only nine countries managed to achieve their targets for reducing per capita emissions of CO2 by 2030, the authors write. These include Sri Lanka, Moldova and Armenia – not industrialized countries.
Tobacco, alcohol, sugar, fast food
All countries advertise young people for harmful products such as alcohol, tobacco, sugar-coated drinks and fast food, it continues. In Los Angeles, teenagers saw an average of four alcohol advertisements a day. In China, 86 percent of five and six year olds could identify at least one cigarette brand.
The advertisement for high sugar drinks and fast food is partly responsible for the alarming spread of obesity. In 1975, eleven million minors were obese worldwide, and as many as 124 million in 2016. The area of online advertising that targets minors is completely unregulated, Costello complained. Agreements with the industry on self-regulation did not work.
That should be done
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on countries to invest more in health care and development for young people on earth.
Unicef boss Henrietta Fore said: “Every government must make minors a priority in their development plans and put their wellbeing above all other considerations.” Unicef proposes youth committees at the level of communities to high politics, and apps that young people can use to express what moves them and what they want. Schools need to better educate children so they know how to address concerns.
The authors also recommend urgently stopping CO2 emissions and tightening advertising restrictions. In addition to the WHO, the children’s aid organization Unicef and the health magazine “The Lancet” participated in the preparation of the study.