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March 4, 2024, World Obesity Day

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March 4, 2024, World Obesity Day

World Obesity Day is celebrated on March 4 (World obesity Day), chronic progressive and relapsing disease, even when, in the initial stages, it is not associated with any complications.

The theme of the day this year Let’s talk about obesity &… aims to be an opportunity to discuss strategies and interventions for the prevention and control of a pathology that represents a real emergency for public health.

The impact of obesity and its consequences requires an intersectoral and multidisciplinary approach, with coordinated interventions at different levels, to prevent its onset, ensure early management of subjects at risk or those still at the initial stage and to slow down its progression in order to avoid or delay as much as possible the use of pharmacological or surgical therapies.

Childhood obesity, in particular, is one of the most important challenges due to the consequences it entails, such as the risk of type 2 diabetes, asthma, musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular problems, psychological and social problems.

The prevention strategy, in line with the objectives of the action plans promoted by the WHO and the EU, is aimed at identifying effective health promotion actions from an intersectoral perspective through an life-courseacting starting from the first 1000 days (as well as in the pre-conceptional phase) and during pregnancy and throughout life, to reduce individual risk factors and remove the causes that prevent citizens from making healthy lifestyle choices.

Obesity is, in fact, a complex interaction of different factors. A universal strategy for each person will never be the solution, but it is essential to implement targeted interventions, which put the person, their rights, motivations, choices, life context at the center, to support and induce a change in behaviors that last over time. In the case of the person suffering from obesity, making them the protagonist of their path is a winning approach, to which different professional skills can and must contribute, taking into account that reducing/eliminating exposure to the risk factors responsible for excess weight is complex and demanding.

Health services and professionals working in the sector can play an important role in improving understanding of the relationships between nutrition, physical activity and health, motivating changes in lifestyle, through adequate interventions to raise awareness of the general population, patients and of their families.

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It is necessary to promote a culture that considers obesity as one complex and relapsing chronic disease, also in order to counteract, at all levels, the stigma towards people who are affected. Interventions focused on individual responsibility in the development of overweight and obesity can, in fact, strengthen the stigma, documented in all social spheres, including the family, school, workplace, health organizations, an aspect that is often overlooked, with a negative impact on the physical, psychological, social health and quality of care of affected people.

Some data

National surveillance OKkio to HEALTH

According to national surveillance data OK to Health 2019 il 20.4% of children are overweight while the 9.4% are obese (threshold values ​​ofInternational Obesity Task Force, IOTF); with a slight percentage superiority in males compared to females (obese males 9.9% vs obese females 8.8%). The habit of not consuming breakfast (8.7%) or consuming it inadequately (35.6%) persists over the years, as does the use of a plentiful mid-morning snack (55.2%). ​Children’s non-daily consumption of fruit and/or vegetables remains high (24.3%) while the daily intake of sugary and/or carbonated drinks decreases (25.4%). Legumes are consumed by 38.4% of children less than once a week while 48.3% and 9.4% respectively consume snack sweet and savory more than 3 days a week. Regarding maternal perception of their children’s health status, 40.3% of overweight or obese children are perceived by their mothers as under-normal weight; 59.1% of mothers of physically inactive children believe that their child does adequate physical activity and among mothers of overweight or obese children, 69.9% think that the amount of food their child eats is not excessive . The share of children who spend more than 2 hours a day in front of TV/video games/tablets/cell phones is significantly increasing compared to previous years (44.5%), while as many as 59.1% of mothers of physically inactive children instead, they believe that their child does adequate physical activity.

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Studio Health Behaviour in School-aged Children HBSC – Health-related behaviors of school-age children

From the 2022 data ofindagine Health Behaviour in School-aged Childrenconducted on samples of students aged 11, 13 and 15, less than one adolescent in 10 carries out at least 60 minutes a day of moderate-intense physical activity (the target recommended by the WHO from 5 to 17 years of age) and this habit decreases with increasing age. In each age group, gender differences are found with respect to moderate-intense motor activity, with higher frequencies in males. Compared to the 2017-2018 survey, there is a slight reduction in the percentage of young people who carry out at least 60 minutes of moderate-intense physical activity every day (8.2% vs 10%). Half of young people, mostly boys, carry out intense physical activity at least three times a week. With regards to sedentary behaviour, as age increases both boys and girls spend more time on social networks and watching DVDs on TV and videos on TV and You Tube, while from 13 to 15 years the time dedicated to video games decreases. Italian adolescents have a fair perception of their quality of life and their psychological well-being, even if this sensation has decreased over the years and is greater in boys than girls. Furthermore, from 21% to 29.6% of students between 11 and 15 years old do not consume breakfast on school days, only a third of boys consume fruit at least once a day (far from the recommendations) with better values ​​among girls and in the 11 year old age group. Only one teenager in four consumes vegetables at least once a day, especially girls. Overweight and obesity are higher in males for all age groups considered and decrease with increasing age. Compared to 2017/2018, in this latest survey there is an increase in the share of overweight and/or obese children. This increase is evident for all age groups considered and for both genders. Adolescents who are overweight (overweight+obesity) are 22.6% (overweight 18.2% and obesity 4.4%).

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PASSI surveillance system – Progress of healthcare companies for health in Italy

The data reported by the interviewees STEPS in the two-year period 2021-2022 on lifestyles and behavioral risk factors of the adult Italian population (18-69 years) report that 4 out of 10 adults are overweight: 3 overweight (with a body mass index – BMI – between 25 and 29.9) e 1 obese (BMI ≥30). Excess weight is more frequent with increasing age, among men than among women, among people with economic difficulties and among people with a low level of education. The attention of health workers to the problem is low, and decreasing over time. This aspect is very relevant because when the advice to go on a diet comes from a doctor it encourages those who receive it to put it into practice. In fact, the share of overweight people who claim to follow a diet is significantly higher among those who have received medical advice compared to those who have not received it (44% vs 17%). Even less frequent is medical advice to practice physical activity.

To know more

Obesity page thematic area Lifestyles

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