World Obesity Day 2016

World Obesity Day is led by the World Obesity Federation, which represents researchers, health professionals, members of communities around the world that are committed to prevent and treat obesity.

World Obesity Day is part of their Action Initiative.

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This year, the focus is on ending childhood obesity. Worldwide, 222 million school children are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has a strong impact on children’s health and it’s a risk factor for many preventable chronic diseases later in life such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. If we want to meet the WHO target to reduce childhood obesity to 2010 levels by 2025 we must act now.

World Obesity Day aims at raising awareness about the global epidemic of obesity, encourage governments to take action, encourage associations and communities to get involved to overcome childhood obesity.

No single action is sufficient to stop this problem and we should do our part.

We live in an “obesogenic” environment which doesn’t make it easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but not impossible. We can all make small changes that can improve the quality of our children’s life.

Proper nutrition and adequate physical activity are great allies to raise healthy children.

 

  • Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast will help children to focus and function better in school. Cereal breakfast, doughnuts, fruit juices contain so much sugar that could be considered more like dessert than breakfast. Homemade oat meal, a slice of bread with low-sugar jelly, milk, sugar-free yogurt or a fruit are better options.
  • Kids don’t like eating veggies. Kids love eating sweets. Guess what, we can switch those two statements. Kids have a natural preference for sweet foods. And it’s true, many of them refuse to eat broccoli or spinach. But once we teach them that it’s important to include veggies and fruits in their diet, they’ll give it a try. There are different strategies and tips that can help us to gradually include veggies in our kids’ lunch and dinner, and have them to enjoy the nutritious and delicious meals. Let’s do our best to make sure kids consume at least five portions of fruit and veggies per day.
  • Sugary drinks should really be called liquid candy. Sodas, fruit juices, and other soft drinks contain way too much sugar. We can and should advocate and encourage governments to pass soda taxes and we should ask food industry to reformulate their products and restrict the marketing of less healthy foods to children. Unfortunately, there are lots of conflicts of interest and money involved in all these issues so it might take some time before something gets done in this direction. However, we have the power to decide what to buy and what to put on our children’s plate.
  • Nutrition education in school should be implemented. In some countries, students follow classes like Health Education, but only a few hours are about nutrition. In other countries Nutrition education programs aren’t well developed and don’t lead to long-lasting healthy habits. We should implement these programs and have kids learn about food, its value, properties and health benefits, since preschool. As a nutrition educator in elementary schools I can say that kids are really interested in this matter. They show enthusiasm in learning how to grow the veggies that later they’re going to cook, and why eating only fries is not good for their health. Teachers, parents, community members, local health professionals should get involved, work together and contribute to the education of next generation.
  • Physical activity alone is not sufficient to lose weight or prevent obesity. But, being active helps prevent several diseases, improves our mood, and it’s a great opportunity for kids to socialize with their pairs. Adults spend lots of hours sitting and children are getting used to this bad habit too: they seat in school, in the car/bus traveling to school, at home while doing homework, playing games, watching TV. Let’s encourage kids to find activities they enjoy, build physical activity into family life, and soon it’ll become a regular activity.

 

Obesity is often referred to as a global epidemic and there’s a reason for it. If we don’t act now, it is estimated that more than 2.6 million school-aged children globally will be obese by 2025. The good news is that it is preventable!!

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