Obesity a Growing Problem in Croatia

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 20, 2018 – Some 35% of eight-year-olds in Croatia are overweight or obese, which puts it among the top five European countries with this problem, a survey shows.

The survey was carried out by the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) in 2015/2016 as part of the European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative and was presented at the Health Ministry.

The survey revealed that 31% of girls and 38.7% of boys are overweight or obese. By region, the largest proportion of overweight or obese girls was reported in continental Croatia (35.6%), while the largest proportion of overweight or obese boys was recorded in the Adriatic region (42.2%). The lowest proportion of overweight and obese children was observed in Zagreb (18.8% overweight and 11% obese).

One in six parents, or 14.6%, thought that their children were overweight or obese, which is far less than the result showing that 35% of children have problems with excessive weight.

The survey included 5,664 second- and third-graders in 164 primary schools and their parents.

As for risks leading to weight gain, the survey revealed that 56.1% of children spend two or more hours a day watching TV or using electronic devices, while this figure increases to 87.4% over the weekend.

Some 51.5% of children spend less than three hours a week in an organised physical activity, 9.7% spend less than an hour a day playing outside, and only 1.5% play outside over the weekend.

As for food and drink consumption, 4,3% of children eat pizza, French fries, hamburgers or sausages more than three times a week, 27% eat cake, doughnuts or pies, 31.1% eat chocolate or sweets, while 29.1% drink fruit juices with added sugar more than three times a week. As many as 66.5% of children do not eat fresh fruit daily, 82.8% do not eat vegetables daily and 22.9% do not have breakfast every day.

The Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative survey was first organised in 2006 by the European Office of the World Health Organisation and 13 member states. Croatia joined in 2015/2016, carrying out the survey together with 37 countries.

Although there are a number of programmes that are implemented locally in Croatia, it will take time to see any results in schools, HZJZ said.

As a good example, HZJZ cited Portugal which has adopted a series of measures since 2007, including changes to food taxation policies and investments in prevention and school education, which have helped reduce the number of overweight children.


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