- Norway was just named the number one country in the world for child "flourishing" a metric that includes health, education, survival, and nutrition.
- The new Lancet report also lists the countries that are most sustainable for kids, based on emissions. For that, Burundi comes out on top, among many other African countries that emit relatively little CO2.
- The US doesn't place among the top 10 in either category. For overall health and wellbeing, the US comes in at 39th, while emissions-wise America is at the bottom of the pile.
"Children and young people are full of energy, ideas, and hope for the future.," the new Lancet report said. "They are also angry at the state of the world."
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The world's children are angry, and with reason: there is no perfect place where they can grow up healthy, strong, smart, and pollution-free.
Countries that raise some of the healthiest, most well-off kids are also the ones who are responsible for more than their fair share of environmental degradation, according to a new Lancet report.
The report, which is a very first look at children's health in the context of a changing environment, found that "no single country supports a healthy childhood and an environment fit for the future."
In fact, some of the countries where kids grow up to lead the healthiest, safest, and best educated lives are among the worst for the health of the planet, and, in turn, the future of its kids.
"Children and young people are full of energy, ideas, and hope for the future," the report said. "They are also angry at the state of the world."
Much of that anger must be directed at the world's biggest emitters of CO2 pollution. Here are the top 10 countries that the Lancet report called out, which pose the biggest threat to the future of children's health, based on their CO2 emissions relative to 2030 targets. Oil giant Qatar comes in last place, while the US is the eighth-worst.
"While some of the poorest countries have among the lowest CO2 emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate," commission co-chair Awa Coll-Seck said when the report was released. "Promoting better conditions today for children to survive and thrive nationally does not have to come at the cost of eroding children's futures globally."
But the evidence suggests it often does.
To determine the best countries that support kids' health and welfare today, The Lancet averaged a mix of indicators on both how well children are "surviving" and how well they are "thriving," which the journal termed a "flourishing" score. Measures of survival in each country included: how often mothers lived and died, whether children made it to their fifth birthday, rates of suicide, access to health services, hygiene and sanitation, and lack of poverty. Thriving, meanwhile, measured metrics including education, growth, nutrition, reproductive freedom, and safety.
After crunching the numbers, the Lancet put Norway at the top of its "thriving" list, and the Central African Republic at the bottom. The US came somewhere in the middle, placing 39th out of 180 countries and narrowly edging out China, which was in 43rd place.
The only countries which performed well for their children on both environmental and health and welfare metrics together were: Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Uruguay.
The authors of the Lancet report also said that in addition to health and environmental concerns, "insidious" advertising is a major threat to the future health of children around the world, as it pushes more foods, beverages, and behaviors that have a negative impact on human health from birth to death. These include syrupy sweet drinks, junk processed foods, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and formula milk. The commission urged governments around the world to better regulate advertisers, noting that "children are the frequent targets of commercial entities promoting addictive substances and unhealthy commodities, including fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages, but also alcohol and tobacco."
No matter where kids grow up in the world, they all list some of the same things that make them happiest: family togetherness, safety, cleanliness, and access to education and culture.
"[Being healthy is] playing with my whānau [extended family] and my mum and dad," a kid from New Zealand said in the report, while another from Nigeria added "it's fun to be a kid, because you have opportunity to play."
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a treaty that speaks to these yearnings, for children to be protected, educated, healthy, treated fairly, and heard. Every country in the world except the US has signed the convention.
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