Unhealthy Snacks, Sodas And Watching TV – A Threat To Childhood Health
– Reported, April 09, 2012
With more than one in eight northern European children being overweight and over 25% of children in parts of southern Europe, obesity amongst European pre-schoolers is hitting record levels. The highest levels are in Spain where 38% of young girls are now classified as overweight or obese.
The March edition of the journal Obesity Reviews reveals results from a new 10-country wide European study, which shows that pre-school children are becoming overweight from watching too much TV at weekends, and consuming too many unhealthy snacks and soft drinks.
According to the researchers, this dramatic evolution does not only have an impact on European’s future health, it also places an extreme economic burden on society.
Dr Yannis Manios, Assistant Professor at Harokopio University in Athens, who coordinates the ToyBox-study, declares:
“We need a new approach to prevent obesity. Young children are naturally energetic and they like being physically active since for them this is a way to interact socially and make friends. However, in the opposite direction, the natural human preference for sweet tasting and energy-dense foods and drinks is leading children towards these food items whenever they are exposed to them.
For these reasons, obesity prevention programs should try to ensure that children have free time and space to be physically active, create a healthy food and drink environment but also guide teachers and parents on how they can promote such behaviors.”
Dr Manios and his team stressed the need for policies that promote health.
“We found that many countries are lacking clear guidelines on healthy eating and active play. However, there is good evidence linking sedentary behavior (like TV watching) with subsequent obesity. Therefore, TV-watching in kindergartens should be replaced by more active, non-competitive, fun activities which will promote the participation of the whole class and help children to achieve optimal growth, health and well-being.
Similarly at home, TVs in the bedroom and unhealthy snacks in the kitchen cupboard are a bad idea. Parents should also remember that their role is not only to provide healthy food and drink options but to act as a role model themselves, since kids are copying their behaviors. “
The European Commission supports the multi-country research project with a 2.9m grant. The ToyBox study will include the development and evaluation of a new program that is designed to assist kindergartens in 6 EU-countries to promote a healthy way of living. The program includes methods to promote physical activities and reduce sedentary activities like watching TV and playing computer games as well as educating the children in terms of snacking and water consumption.
Written by Petra Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today
For more Spain News Click Here