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Preventing Overweight and Obesity: Explore the Environment

It’s not news that obesity among children is widespread and continues to be a leading health concern in the United States, and the same is happening in many countries around the world. What may come as a bit of a surprise is that it's even happening in Mediterranean countries, especially among children.

Italy famed for its healthy lifestyle and Mediterranean diet, is the second highest next to Greece tackling weight issues and obesity in children. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), warned that the rate of overweight children could be a key issue for Italy in the coming years.

New Initiative for Childhood Obesity in Italy

While the rest of the world is encouraged to copy the traditional Italian menu by swapping junk food for fruit and vegetables, it seems Italians are forgetting the lessons they taught everyone else. Are traditional home-made meals and snacks losing out to low-cost, calorie-packed fast food, coupled with less physical activity?  Healthy food is easily available in Italy and the opportunities for physical activity are ample. Why are the figures for obesity so high?

Dr.Annamaria Acquaviva, nutritionist, dietician, mother and co-creator of the BATMAN initiative is on a mission. The BATMAN project, a study carried out with the support of the IORInstitute of Oncology of Romagna, the National Association of Dietitians and in collaboration with the ScimPulse FoundationThe project aims to help families of children with overweight and obesity through a nutritional path that conveys the knowledge of proper nutrition useful to the child; at the same time identifying the obstacles and difficulties faced by families with children 3-10 years in achieving a healthy way of life. 

Insight Into Preventive Strategies

Despite many health interventions, in Italy 21% of the children are overweight with 10% categorized as obese. These numbers are alarming which complelled Dr. Acquaviva to delve further. Children diagnosed with illnesses that were associated with the elderly, she knew something had to be done. “Unfortunately many times the interventions of nutrition education and health promotion are not sufficient to implement lasting change in lifestyle. The goal is to provide tools for parents to foster the child's health, keeping in mind the adult's point of view, which provides us with valuable information to overcome the possible critical interventions and propose actions really useful and practical “says Dr. Annamaria Acquaviva, dietitian and pharmacist in charge of the project".

Healthy Lifestyle

Dr. Acquaviva, together with her passion for tasty cooking and a healthy lifestyle believes the two can work together. Annamaria started her journey as chemist, but it was prevention instead of cure that intrigued her.  It’s no secret that prevention is a big buzzword in healthcare, or that a healthy diet is a cornerstone of preventative care. With obesity on the rise and more people concerned with the link between diet and overall quality of life, this initiative is welcomed.

Nutrition-the science of food  

Long-term, healthy behaviour changes are most successful when the entire family gets involved. Weight is a common topic at dinner tables, whether revealing itself in open discussion or unspoken actions. It’s an intricate subject every family deals with differently, some through restriction or portion control practices and others not at all. Dr. Acquaviva’s initiative promises distinct set of essential insight, expertise and skills needed to inform, inspire, and ultimately reshape Italy’s appetite. An approach to develop strategies for the prevention of excess weight gain targeting the factors contributing to obesity is the first step in combating the problem. The key to changing health behaviours, explore the environment that gives to them. 

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