NBA All-Star player and two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol has been appointed as a Global Champion for Nutrition and Zero Childhood Obesity by UNICEF.

In his role, Gasol – who has been a UNICEF Spain Ambassador since 2003 – will help UNICEF tackle childhood obesity and malnutrition-related issues to ensure all children can reach their full potential.

“Far too many children are not getting the nutrition they need to grow well,” said Gasol. “If children don’t get the right nutrients, their bodies and brains cannot be expected to perform well – at school, in sports, and as they grow. I’m working with UNICEF to make sure every child has access to good nutrition, so they can grow up healthy and strong and contribute actively to reduce obesity among children, which is now a global pandemic.”

Globally, 149 million children under age five – nearly one in four – are stunted, more than 49 million suffer from wasting, and more than 40 million are overweight. Malnutrition affects every country in the world, with many parts of the world now facing a double – and less well-reported triple – the threat of malnutrition, namely undernutrition, hidden hunger and emerging challenges of obesity.

“The burden of child malnutrition around the world is unacceptably high,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “We are delighted to welcome Pau to UNICEF to help shine a light on this invisible emergency and ensure all children realize their right to survival and development.”

Since 2003, Gasol has been a dedicated advocate of UNICEF’s nutrition, education, child protection, and humanitarian work, traveling extensively to meet children in Iraq, Lebanon, Chad, Ethiopia, South Africa, Angola, and Bangladesh.

In 2013, Gasol and his brother, Marc Gasol, founded the Gasol Foundation to help reduce childhood obesity rates through the promotion of sports and physical activity, healthy eating, sleep quality, and the emotional well-being of children, adolescents and their families in the United States and Spain.

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