PRESENTATION OF SURVEY RESULTS ON THE EATING HABITS AND LIFESTYLES
OF CHILDREN IN ITALY, DENMARK AND POLAND

ITALIAN CHILDREN ARE THE MOST OBESE
SEDENTARINESS AND TV WIN OVER OUTDOOR PLAYING AND EXERCISING
The rate of overweight children is 12.9% and that of obese children is 4.6% in the countries surveyed and subject of PERISCOPE project action, i.e. Italy, Denmark and Poland. Italy in particular shows the highest total rate: 21,2%. The scarce physical exercise and the too many hours spent watching TV are especially to blame.

These are the results of the sample survey performed by the European project <LINK:http://www.periscopeproject.eu|_blank>PERISCOPE (Pilot European Regional Interventions for Smart Childhood Obesity Prevention in Early Age) on child nutrition in Europe. The leading project partner is Movimento Difesa del Cittadino. PERISCOPE has involved, apart from Italy, two more European countries, Denmark and Poland.

Partners of MDC are: the Public Health Office (ASL) of Brindisi, Movimento Consumatori, the Danish University of Aalborg and the Polish School of Medicine of Silesia. The Scientific Manager of the project is Dr. Margherita Caroli, paediatrician at the ASL Brindisi, chairwoman of ECOG (European Childhood Obesity Group), child nutrition expert advisor for DG SANCO and DG RESEARCH of the European Union. The project is co-funded by EAHC, Executive Agency for Health and Consumers.

The survey involved a sample of around 1,200 children aged between 3 and 6 in the
kindergartens of three countries: Italy, Denmark and Poland. The survey has observed the lifestyles of these children and their families, the level of physical exercise practised, the lifestyles and the role of kindergartens in their eating habits.

From the standpoint of eating habits, Italian children are the “unruliest”: they eat less fruit and vegetables than their Danish and Polish age peers. In particular, 27.5% of sample components never eats raw vegetables and 40% never eats cooked vegetables. On the other hand, the most disciplined are the Danish children: about 70% of them eat fruit at least once a day and 65% prefer raw vegetables once to several times a day.

Italian children are also the least active. 50% of them, according to their parents, are not allowed to play outside compared to 1% of Danish and Polish children, although the latter live in countries where the climate is more rigid. This is one of the most shocking results of the survey.

In particular, as many as 11% of Italian children are “never” allowed to play outside compared to zero % of their Danish and Polish contemporaries. This is due to the fact that Italy lacks parks and its streets are too trafficked. In terms of sports practised, Danish children are the most active: 53.5% of the sample practices some sport, while the Italians are the least active: 18.2%.

Figures improve with respect to bad habits, such as prolonged sedentariness watching TV: only 3% of Danish children spends more than two hours a day watching TV. This is a positive piece of information, as watching TV for more than two consecutive hours is considered a bad habit, as it might contribute to developing child obesity. Polish children follow with 12.2% and Italian children with 13.2%. The percentages of children who spend more than two hours watching TV increase during weekends: here Polish children show the least healthy habit with a percentage of 41%, followed by Italian (25%) and Danish children (22.7%.)

The research has focused on the role of kindergartens: in order to identify the importance of the facilities for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle among children, PERISCOPE has analysed the degree of satisfaction of the sample. Almost all the interviewees in the three countries replied affirmatively to the question: “Does your child enjoy going to kindergarten?” (about 90% on average in the three countries). Only Polish children replied negatively in a substantial percentage, 16.7%. However, the overall result confirms that kindergartens are a positive environment where to convey correct lifestyles to families.

Italian children are the “laziest” ones in reaching their kindergarten: even where the distance from home is less than one kilometre, Italian families use the car more than Denmark and Polish families. This is interesting, because the Italian locations involved in the PERISCOPE survey are small towns with a much milder climate compared to the locations surveyed in the other two countries.

<DOC:2143|_blank>The report (PDF)

<RIF:2034|_self|>Italian press relase

Data pubblicazione: 21 gennaio 2010

 

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