At Agora Lledó International School we put childhood obesity at bay and you can continue doing so at home
If you were asked which pandemic we are fighting, what would you answer? Most probably you would mention COVID-19, but there is another silent pandemic: childhood obesity. We teach you how to put an end to this disease, just as we do at Agora Lledó International School.
According to Idoia Labayen, senior lecturer at the University of Health Sciences of the University of Navarra, childhood obesity is the other epidemic of the 21st century. In fact, she is categorical in stating that for the first time in history, the next generation will have less life expectancy than the current one; something that the World Health Organisation (WHO) already warned about in the year 2000.
Data from the Spanish Society of Cardiology’s Nutritional Study of the Spanish Population paints a bleak picture: by 2020, 40% of Spanish children aged between 3 and 8 will be obese or overweight. Moreover, abdominal obesity affects three out of every ten children, especially boys. According to Javier Aranceta, the main author of the study, the population under the age of 25 has continued to gain weight over the last 30 years.
An investigation carried out by the Gasol Foundation goes one step further by showing that 60% of children in Spain do not meet the minimum amount of physical exercise time recommended by the WHO, which is 60 minutes a day. Furthermore, the same analysis concluded that one of the main causes of this scenario is that eating habits are getting worse and worse and that, in fact, the Mediterranean diet is being lost.
Consequences of child obesity
The consequences of obesity during childhood are worrying: in the short term, School Nurse says that children may suffer from diabetes or hypertension, as well as respiratory problems, orthopaedic disorders or fractures. And on the mental level, discrimination, social isolation, loss of self-esteem or eating disorders.
In the long term, they may also continue to suffer from obesity in adulthood or chronic cardiovascular diseases, as well as being related to the appearance of certain types of cancer and other disorders of the locomotor system.
What is eaten in school canteens?
As we mentioned earlier, the two main causes of the increase in childhood obesity are low physical activity and the deterioration of children’s diets. This is where the role of school canteens comes in. “It is not just a matter of providing healthy food, but of teaching healthy eating. To this end, the intervention of a dietician-nutritionist in a multidisciplinary team together with physical education professionals, psychologists and pedagogues, families, teachers and kitchen staff is key in the school environment,” explains Alma Palau, president of the General Council of Official Dietician-Nutritionist Associations.
Aware of the importance of the role of school canteens, at Agora Lledó International School we have set up the Lledó HealthyFood project. Thanks to it, we have implemented different measures to improve the school canteen service. A project led in a pioneering way in the province by the famous Chef Juan Llorca and the Nutrikids team.
The main objective of this project is to introduce new food and healthy and balanced habits in our canteen. How? We have incorporated special pasta, organic pulses, fresh fish and meat and a considerable increase in cereals, non-animal protein, fruit and vegetables. In addition, we practice the ‘Mondays without fish or meat’ philosophy, incorporating other types of healthy products such as cous-cous, sweet potato or vegetable stew in our students’ menus.
Tips to keep childhood obesity out of our homes
The project that we carry out in our centre needs the support of the family, among other agents. For this reason, we consider it vitally important that these healthy eating habits for children cross borders and reach every home. For this reason, here are a series of tips that will help to promote a rich and healthy diet and keep childhood obesity at bay, and which are endorsed by the Spanish Association of Paediatrics:
- Offer children healthy snacks and keep all industrial baked goods out of your life.
- Fill the shopping basket with fruit, vegetables, fish and pulses.
- Always opt to drink water or natural juices instead of soft drinks.
- Reduce the intake of animal fats in children over two years of age.
- Avoid beverages containing sugar or fructose corn syrup.
- Avoid processed foods
- Take daily physical exercise
- Always try to keep to a regular eating schedule to avoid snacking.
- At mealtimes, try to avoid distractions such as screens (practice mindful eating).