21.11.2019 change 21.11.2019

Childhood Obesity - Extensive Education and Sugar Tax Needed

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Scientists have come up with a list of proposals to tackle obesity - including a tax on sugar.

Speaking at the 29th European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) Annual Congress in Katowice last week, participants looked at ways of early obesity prevention as well as developing models to improve treatment.

Congress co-organizer Dr. Agnieszka Stachurzok from the Upper Silesian ChildHealth Centre (GCZD) in Katowice said: "Many countries are introducing a tax on added sugars. A tax on sweets is not a popular decision, but sugar is a serious threat to public health.”

She added that Poland is in the middle of the childhood obesity incidence ranking in Europe.

She said: ”In Europe, the Mediterranean countries are currently at the forefront in this respect: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta.

“The famous healthy Mediterranean diet was the diet of Italian peasants from the 1950s, but modern families no longer follow its principles.

“In Poland in recent years, the incidence of overweight fortunately stopped growing, but the number of children with heavier, highest obesity is increasing.”

She added that many overweight or slightly obese children do not receive proper help in time; due to queues of children with infections in the waiting room, family doctors do not always have the time and opportunity to discuss this aspect of the child`s health with the parents. There is also a lack of specialist clinics, where children can receive professional and comprehensive help not only from a doctor, but also a dietician, physiotherapist or psychologist.

"Children often treat food as an escape from problems. Food is a pleasure, so an unhappy child (because of problems at home or at school) reaches for this pleasure," she said.

Poverty is considered to be the biggest risk factor for child obesity in Poland. "A sign of poverty in Poland is not a lean, malnourished child, but more often an overweight child who eats poor, unhealthy, highly processed products with a high content of salt or sugar, who often drinks beverages with a lot of sugar. It is necessary to educate children from an early age, but also parents; these are policy-level decisions," she stressed.

ECOG is an international organization bringing together a multidisciplinary group of specialists who have been dealing with childhood obesity for almost 30 years.

Over one hundred Polish and foreign experts involved in the treatment of childhood obesity attended the congress in Katowice, including paediatricians, endocrinologists, surgeons, dieticians, physiotherapists and psychologists.

During the four-day event, they participated in lectures, workshops, working groups, expert panels and presentations of interesting clinical cases. (PAP)

author: Anna Gumułka

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