At the beginning of September, the fifth edition of "School of He alth - for parents, teachers and children" was held in the Albena resort, organized by the Bulgarian Association for the Study of Obesity and its Associated Diseases, the Bulgarian Academy of Science and arts, "Albena" complex, under the auspices of the Minister of He alth Prof. Nikolay Petrov. For six days, parents, teachers and children received training on balanced nutrition combined with physical activity. Nutritionists from France and Denmark also joined as speakers. The focus of the "School of He alth" this year was the PREVIEW project of the European Union for the prevention of obesity and diabetes
“Bulgarians are getting fatter and sicker compared to their peers in Europe. Obesity has doubled in the last 10 years. In the sad ranking of obesity, Bulgarians are in fifth place in terms of excess weight compared to their peers in Europe", the chairman of the Bulgarian Association for the Study of Obesity and its Associated Diseases, Assoc. Dr. Svetoslav Khandzhiev, said on the subject to "Doctor".
- Associate Professor Khandzhiev, what are the main causes of obesity in Bulgarian children?
- Reasons for obesity are immobility, lack of sports, insufficient sleep, uncontrolled intake of soft drinks, the large size of meals on the plate. Some of the medications are also among the factors of obesity, along with the lack of daily physical activity. Insufficient sleep is one of the main causes of obesity and various related diseases.
Is it difficult for a child to get rid of excess weight?
- Of course it is difficult. Once obese, children have a hard time losing weight through exercise and physical activity. Obesity in children and adolescents leads to greater problems in the bone system and joints. At a later age, they suffer from sleep apnea, which can lead to death, as well as various psychological problems.
How do Bulgarian children eat and where is Bulgaria in terms of obesity among adolescents?
- Unfortunately, Bulgaria is one of the leading overweight countries among the countries of the European Union, and on a global scale.
We are in fifth place in Europe in terms of obesity among children
Over 224,000 Bulgarians are overweight. We are also at the top of the list in terms of mortality and prevalence of stroke and myocardial infarction - diseases directly related to excess weight. And it all starts from early childhood. The first 7 years of human development are very important. They include both the learning of he althy habits in the family and in the nursery, kindergarten, school. Places where the child builds his eating habits and learns a he althy lifestyle. Problems related to nutrition, and especially mistakes in nutrition, learning he althy lifestyle habits, motor activity, he althy sleep, are rooted in childhood. Recent data show that levels of immobility are extremely high among both children and adults. It is shocking that according to recent studies, 78% of Bulgarians over the age of 18 do not have any physical activity. 20% have some, partial physical activity and
only 2% do physical activity
which can be qualified as he althy. That is why we also talk about obesity.
What is the prevention of childhood obesity?
- It's very simple - proper nutrition and exercise. Modern technology has immobilized children. In fact, movement is an essential component of a he althy lifestyle. It is necessary to walk between 45 and 60 minutes every day, to perform other motor activities such as cycling, swimming, dancing.
Movement should not be excluded from living in an urban environment. It is extremely important for children to move. Not only in your free time, but also in school. There should be playgrounds, sports facilities and physical education lessons should be related to real movement, not fictitious, as is the practice in many schools. Movement and proper nutrition are the key to a child's he alth, as well as to their he alth in the future. A fat child is not a he althy child. An overweight child becomes an adult with he alth problems. Prevention of childhood obesity is prevention of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.
What must be present in a child's menu?
- We must teach our children to consume he althy Bulgarian products, for example Bulgarian yogurt. At the end of the 19th century, the Russian scientist Ilya Mechnikov established that there are the most long-lived people in the Bulgarian mountains and connected this fact with the consumption of Bulgarian yogurt. In 1933, Prof. Asen Zlatarov said that
yoghurt is an elixir of youth
Later, Academician Tashev and his school created a number of dietary treatment regimens based on yogurt for gastrointestinal diseases, for dyslipidemia - increased cholesterol, and for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. So children must consume both yogurt and other dairy products - cheese, yellow cheese, cottage cheese.
You should also eat fish and fish products, which are rich in valuable omega fatty acids, at least once a week. Our sunflower oil is also of high quality and should be on the menu. But the use of palm oils and imitation spices must be limited.
Another important thing is to reduce the consumption of s alt and sugar.
Traditionally, the Bulgarian consumes three times more s alt
from the permissible he althy norm. This is how we teach our children. We have to teach them to eat less s alt. A he althy diet means a varied diet. There is the key, and our, Bulgarian cuisine, gives rich opportunities to diversify the children's menu with natural useful products - dairy products, fruits, vegetables, legumes. Legumes - beans, lentils, peas, which are an important part of our traditional meal, must necessarily be included in the menu of adolescents.
Breakfast should only be fruit
A careful conversation with a specialist - either a personal physician or a psychologist - should be conducted with the full child. No matter how small it is, it must be convinced by all means that it cannot continue like this, because diseases, ridicule from classmates, deteriorated social contacts will follow. The main thing is a change in the motor activity of the child
A sharp change in the way of eating is necessary with four meals - breakfast around 8 am., lunch around 12, 30, dinner around 6 and a snack around 10, 30 or 4 pm depending on the school shift. The supporting snack is only fruit. A number of restrictions follow here, which makes the regime difficult for the child. The consumption of sugar and chocolate products, soft drinks, sandwiches, donuts, pasta snacks, all kinds of sausages, fried and breaded foods, white bread is prohibited. The intake of seeds and nuts, fatty fish, high-fat milk and dairy products, without cheese and yellow cheese is limited.