Children and adolescents are subject to a wide presence High-calorie foods and low nutritional value in schools. In parallel, and as indicated in the latest World Health Education Study in Argentina (2012), physical activity was reduced and time spent on poor activities increased. The increase in overweight and weight gain in Argentina, for example, is alarming.
In Argentina, according to the latest official figures, 28.6% of adolescents are overweight and obese, while 10.4% of children between six months and six years of age are obese. In turn The obesity trend is emphasized at a lower socio-economic level: An analysis of the 2012 World School Health Survey conducted by UNICEF in cooperation with UNICEF in collaboration with UNICEF in 2015 showed that the overweight was lower among boys in socio-economic terms by 31%.
"Changes in lifestyle, accelerated rhythm and socioeconomic conditions contribute to the consumption of industrially developed and hypercaloric foods that have high levels of fat and sugar, but lack the nutrients necessary for the development, growth and proper functioning of the body, which promotes overweight and obesity in children. "This was considered by Barro Foundation Norma Isabel Guezikaraian nutrition manager.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data The cause of childhood obesity is not only about malnutrition and reduced physical activity, but there are also socioeconomic factors that cause this disease. "Some of them are food education, processing, distribution and marketing, and even urban planning, environment and transport," said J. Guseikaraian, who stressed that "those children who suffer from it are at an elevated risk of so-called chronic non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia, hypertriglyceridaemia and other conditions."
In this regard, the specialist insisted that "for this reason, it is important that the prevention of childhood obesity begins in the first years of life." "Good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle are easier to maintain in teenage years and in adulthood, when introduced from childhood, which is the best weapon to avoid overweight," he said. In this process, the role of the family plays a key role in encouraging the child to take physical activity and take care of his diet by participating in it. "
And he suggested some routine practices to make this task easier:
– Include children: adding them to the purchase and cooking of food, giving them greater responsibility for their food.
– inform them: It is important for them to understand what food is, its functions in the body, and how much each one needs.
– to play: preparing food in different ways, combining it and appealingly displaying it on the table. The family can play with textures, colors and shapes.
– Various dishes: It is important to consume all food groups, mainly by increasing the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole wheat and nuts or crude oils.
– observe four daily doses: the children become older, and the dishes must be distributed throughout the day so that the body can obtain the nutrients they need from them. (breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner)
– Know the school menu: for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
– Perform physical activity: Insufficient physical activity at school 60 minutes a day.
The importance of a healthy environment
The National Coalition for the Prevention of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity with Unicef Argentina and FIC Argentina has supported a publication that provides a number of recommendations and examples of good practice for the state to promote a healthy school environment policy. Promoting this environment, along with other policies, such as fiscal policies, front-line food labeling and the promotion of restricted products for low-nutrition products, constitute a set of measures to be taken by the states to prevent and control the obesity epidemic of children.
In the publication, organizations proposed a series of action lines to promote the adoption of a healthy school environment. The strategy is based on WHO and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommendations:
– Ensure the exclusive supply of healthy and natural foods in kiosks and school canteens, as well as prevent foods and beverages with high levels of sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt.
– Ensure access to free drinking water (eg hearing and / or dispensers).
– Include content in education about food and healthy habits in school curricula; lessons on preparing food for children and adolescents, parents and caregivers; and the establishment and management of school gardens.
– Strengthen physical education in schools by providing physical and human resources for this purpose.
– Make sure the school is the place to advertise food and drink with high levels of sugar, fat and salt.
"These guidelines can serve as a basis for establishing a federal school nutrition policy that guarantees a minimum regulatory level that promotes effective and comprehensive measures across the country and ensures justice for all children and adolescents of different socio-economic levels," said Belén Ríos, executive director of FIC Argentina. He added: "To achieve this, local jurisdictions should continue to move towards school environment regulation, given that the rules on schools and school programs are decentralized."
"These guidelines will help inform the public about the types of policies that adequately protect boys and girls from the point of view of the law.. It is essential to act on the basis of evidence and support for civil society in order to protect the rights of children and adolescents who are most vulnerable and whose current and future prosperity is compromised. In this way, we support the strengthening of this coalition from Unicef, because we believe that participation is essential in order to strongly promote the policy of preventing childhood obesity at federal level, and in this way the school needs special protection, as it is where the law enforcement health fundamentals, which is also a prerequisite for acquiring other rights, "said Fernando Zingman, a UNICEF health professional.
The National Coalition for the Prevention of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity is a network of civil society organizations set up in November 2017 thanks to the initiative of FIC Argentina and Unicef Argentina. Currently there are 30 organizations from around the country. Its main objective is to promote public policies that improve the food environment, thus contributing to the prevention of childhood and adolescent obesity.