Children and young people are open to a wide range of high calorie foods and low nutritional value in schools. In parallel, and as indicated by the last World Health Survey held in Argentina (2012), the opportunities for physical activity were reduced and the time allocated to sedentary activities was increased during the break. In a context of increasing overweight and childhood obesity like the one in Argentina, the data is scary.
Is that in Argentina, according to the latest official data available, 28.6% of young people are overweight and obese, while 10.4% of children are from six months to six years of obesity among children. In turn, Obesity tends to focus in the lower socio-social groups: Analysis of the 2012 World-wide World Health Survey conducted by the Argentine Inter-American Heart Foundation (FIC) in collaboration with Unicef in 2015 showed that overweight is 31% more often among boys of lower socio-economic status .
"Changes in lifestyle, rapid rhythms and socio-economic conditions promote the consumption of industrial and hypercaloric foods, with a lot of fat and sugars, but scarce in nutrients that are necessary for the proper development, growth and operation of the organism , these foods contribute to the overweight and obesity in children. "This was considered the director of the Nutrition of the Barceló Foundation, Norma Isabel Guezikaraian.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Children's obesity cases do not focus solely on inadequate dishes and reduced physical activity, but there are also socio-economic factors that drive this disease. "Some of them are food education, processing, distribution and marketing, and even urban planning, the environment and transport," said Guezikaraian, and stressed that "those children who suffer from it get more from an early risk of such chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, other conditions ".
In that sense, the expert insisted "for this reason, it is important that the prevention of obesity among children begins in the first years of life." "The correct eating habits and healthy lifestyles are easier to maintain in adolescents and adults when they suffer from childhood, including the best weapons to avoid hypertension," he said. In this process, the role of the family is essential, having to encourage the child to exercise and care for their diet by participating in it ".
And some daily practices recommended to make this task easier:
– Involving children: add them to buy and prepare food, giving them more responsibility for their food.
– Keep them informed: It is important that they understand what food it is for, its functions in the body and how much it is needed of each one.
– Play: cook foods in different ways, combine them and present them on the table in an attractive way. The family can play with texture, colors and shapes.
– Various food: It is important to use all food groups, mainly increasing the use of fruit, vegetables, pressure and whole grain and nuts or crude oil.
– Respect the four daily admission: children of age grow and food must be distributed throughout the day so that the body gets the nutrients they need. (breakfast, lunch, snack and lunch)
– Know the school menu: To be able to compliment it with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
– Performing physical activity: It's not enough with the physical activity they do at school, 60 minutes are needed a day.
The importance of healthy environments
The National Coalition launched the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Young People, supported by Unicef Argentina and FIC Argentina, a publication that provides a series of recommendations and good practice for the State to promote the school's healthy environment policies. Promoting these environments, together with other policies such as fiscal policies, food labeling and restrictions on advertising of low nutritional quality products, forms A package of measures that States have to implement to prevent and control obesity epidemic among children.
In the announcement, the organizations offered a series of action lines to favor the adoption of healthy school environments. These strategies take recommendations from WHO and the Pan American American Health Organization (PAHO):
– Ensure a unique offer of healthy and natural foods, in kiosks and school mills, and to eliminate the supply of high foods and drinks in sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt.
– Guaranteed access to free drinking water (for example, drinkers and / or distributors).
– Include content on food education and healthy habits for school curricula; Food preparation classes for children and young people, parents and carers; and create and manage school gardens.
– Strengthening physical education in schools by providing physical and human resources for that purpose.
– Make sure the school is a free place to advertise foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt.
"These guidelines can form the basis of developing a federal school feeding policy that guarantees a minimum regulatory floor that promotes effective and comprehensive measures throughout the country and ensures fairness for all children and adolescents from different economic- social, "Belén Ríos, joint executive director of FIC Argentina. He added: "In order to implement it, local jurisdictions must proceed with regulating school environments given that the regulations on schools and school curricula have devolved".
"These guidelines will guide the way of public policies that adequately protect boys and girls in terms of rights.. It is essential to have evidence-based and civil society-approved tools to protect the rights of children and young people, the most vulnerable and who have their current wellbeing and the future at stake. Similarly, from Unicef we are supporting the strengthening of this coalition because we believe that participation is essential to develop firmly in policies for preventing obesity among children at a federal level and, in this way, & # The school deserves special protection, as it is there where the foundations of protection of the right to health are set, which is also a prerequisite for the achievement of other rights, "said Unicef health specialist Fernando Zingman.
The National Coalition for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Young People is a network of civil society organizations created in November 2017 thanks to the Argentine FIC Argentina and Unicef initiative. At present, it has 30 organizations from across the country. Its main objective is to promote public and improving food policies and, in this way, contribute to the prevention of obesity among children and young people.