The Petica education and workshop program – playing to health emphasizes the importance of a mandatory morning meal, fruits and vegetables, water, physical activity and good sleep as prerequisites for reducing the risk of many diseases. It is part of an international project, but so far it is being implemented only in Zagreb.
The education program on proper nutrition and physical activity Petica – a game to health, which is currently being implemented in Zagreb, could significantly reduce the number of obese children in Croatia and thus prevent serious health problems caused by obesity.
According to the latest data in Croatia, 33 percent of boys and 20 percent of girls are overweight or obese. Only 58-60 percent of children eat breakfast every day, and 45 percent eat fruit at least once a day. Also, only 39 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls engage in some physical activity, for at least 60 minutes during the day.
The Five – Playing for Health program is a public health program that emphasizes the importance of five healthy habits:
I don’t skip breakfast,
I eat fruits and vegetables,
i drink water
and I get a good night’s sleep.
This school year, 1490 third and fourth grade elementary school students will include 15 hours of lectures and workshops, educational materials and aids related to the importance of nutrition and physical activity for health. Parents can also get information on social networks and the petica.hr website.
One of the causes of premature death
– The Petica program is part of the international EPODE network, a non-governmental organization founded in 2011 with the aim of raising awareness about the problem of obesity in children. 44 programs have been developed in 33 countries. There was a significant shift in the prevention of obesity in children in those areas where the program was implemented, in contrast to those cities where there were no such programs – said prof. Dr. Jean-Michel Borys, founder of the EPODE program, pediatrician and endocrinologist from Paris, recently visited Zagreb at the symposium “Croatian Obesity Forum” and emphasizing that Petica has all the predispositions for success.
– Obesity in children is one of the three main causes of premature death (along with alcohol and smoking addiction). Only ten countries in Europe have fatter girls and boys than Croatia and it is clear why one should try to change the knowledge, attitudes and habits of children and parents. Through Five children and their parents have acquired knowledge about the basics of nutrition, a healthy plate, the pyramid of healthy eating, the need for physical activity every day, why it is important to use energy through play, the importance of drinking water, recognize nutrients, know what are good sources of protein. what a declaration is and why it is important to read it – says Sara Cobal, master of nutrition and head of the Petica program – is a game to health.
Major risk factors
Prof. dr. sc. Željko Krznarić, gastroenterologist and head of the Center for Clinical Nutrition at the University Hospital Center Zagreb, points out that the main risk factors are that children skip breakfast, do not eat a single fruit meal a day, consume alcoholic beverages in high school, have an inadequate number of meals and these are mostly fast food meals. In addition, outdoor activities and sports clubs are neglected, and even small children watch TV for more than two hours a week, and spend the same amount of time playing games at the computer.
– Prohibitions will not help, but a proactive approach and organization of time and education and monitoring during regular systematic examinations could reduce or at least stop the trend of increasing obesity in children around the world – said prof. Krznarić.
He also pointed out the paradox of the Mediterranean countries, where the highest percentage of obese children is recorded, although the Mediterranean diet is globally marked as the best way to eat. For example, according to a survey on overweight children aged 6 to 12, among 21 countries in Europe, Croatia ranks 7th with 26 percent of obese children; Italy has more obese children (highest, 36%), Malta (35%), Crete (33%), Spain (34%), Greece (31%), Cyprus (28%). Among children aged 12 to 16 (the survey covered 14 countries), Croatia is in third place with 20 percent of obese teenagers, behind Greece and the United Kingdom.