Call for schools to tackle obesity

Schools should adopt intervention programmes to help tackle rising obesity levels across Europe, according to an expert in child obesity.

Professor Martin Wabitsch, from the University of Ulm in Germany, told delegates at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich yesterday that prevention of obesity had become a priority in light of the ineffectiveness of obesity treatments.

He said: ‘Cardiovascular disease starts very early in life, you can detect risk factors in infants.

‘But obesity starts later on in the school ages, so school is the place to change behaviour in children.’

Having interventions in schools allows you to include a large number of children who can have their eating and physical activity levels monitored by teachers, said Professor Wabitsch.

‘Teachers should have a new role as a role model to guide the children’s behaviour in a way that parents no longer do.
‘The children will be motivated to loss weight and this in turn will motivate their family members too.’

A one-year school intervention study involving 1,037 school children aged 7-8 years old was conducted by Professor Wabitsch.

The programme was built in to the daily school timetable and involved twice daily exercise sessions, lasting between 5-7 minutes, as well as family homework on keeping healthy.

Children in the intervention group showed a sustainable reduction in body fat mass of 260g.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

European Society of Cardiology conference Munich 2008

Editor’s blog: Beer and sausages on the menu at cardiology conference

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