What Are Some Obesity Prevention Programs

Obesity - prevention is the order of the day

In the meantime, those responsible in health care and health policy could take it for granted that overweight and obesity are among the greatest health problems worldwide, associated with serious losses in quality of life and life for those affected, and a challenge for health systems that they can overwhelm without countermeasures threatens. However, effective measures against the obesity epidemic are far from easy to formulate, let alone implement, for various reasons. In the vast majority of cases it is too late in adulthood and the chances of conservative obesity therapy are negligible. The World Health Organization (WHO) sees obesity among children and adolescents as the greatest health policy challenge in the 21st century and has defined a halt to the increase by 2020 as a top priority.

Against this background, two highlights should be emphasized at the symposium initiated by the Austrian Academic Institute for Nutritional Medicine. On the one hand, it is apparently very possible to take measures to counter the rampant rise in overweight and obesity. "Examples from other countries have clearly shown that well-founded, evaluated and effective prevention projects are possible and that the successes can also be measured," said Congress President Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kurt Widhalm. On the other hand, high-ranking representatives from politics and social security have made a commitment to preventive measures.

The Austrian Federal Minister for Families and Youth, Dr. Sophie Karmasin, emphasized that a greater consideration of preventive approaches are necessary for a successful fight against overweight and obesity. The chairwoman of the board of the main association of social insurance institutions, Mag. Ulrike Rabmer-Koller, affirmed: “We have to do more for prevention.” If not, a collapse of the health system would be expected due to the consequential costs of obesity.

The health economic dimensions of obesity were determined by Univ.-Prof. Dr. Judit Simon from the Center for Public Health, Department of Health Economics, Medical University of Vienna. According to a US calculation, the health costs for obesity are around 40% higher than those of normal weight. According to the EU Report 2014, up to 7 of the health budget in the EU countries is spent on the direct costs of obesity.

A problem with many facets

If it is not possible to positively influence the development of lifestyle-associated risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, then a decrease in life expectancy can be expected, warned the President of the Austrian Heart Fund, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Otmar Pachinger at a press conference following the congress. In this context, the cardiologist mentioned smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and physical inactivity. The problem is of course not limited to Austria, but: “While there are already clear concepts in other countries, prevention is still a stepchild in Austria,” says Pachinger.

The need for a comprehensive approach to convey health-promoting lifestyle habits - especially eating habits - was highlighted at the press conference by the statement by Univ.-Doz. Dr. Ingrid Kiefer, Head of Risk Communication at the Austrian Food Safety Agency AGES, underlined. In the risk atlas regarding nutrition, overeating comes first, where the nutrition-specific problems lie, is backed up with high evidence. Considerable efforts have also been made in recent years to educate the population about healthy eating. Among other things, food-based recommendations were drawn up. However, there was no success. “Obviously, knowledge alone does not lead to health-oriented behavior,” says Kiefer.

Successful programs in Europe

The French program EPODE (Ensemble, Prévenons l’Obésité des Enfants) also shows the relevance of the environment. The program is based on the pillars of political participation, social marketing, public and private partnership, and monitoring and research. In addition to reducing overweight and obesity, EPODE could also help reduce socio-economic health problems. The program, which has been running since 2004, has meanwhile established itself in around 500 municipalities in six regions. Some key data from a summarizing analysis presented as part of the POC:

  • The body mass index could be reduced by 9.12% (p0.0001) and thus significantly.
  • The prevalence of obesity could be reduced, that of overweight to a significant extent. The reduction in obesity was 0.4% (p = 0.546), and in overweight 1.4% (p0.0001).
  • The health inequalities between the lower and middle classes have been reduced by 25%.
  • The health inequalities between the middle and upper classes have been reduced by 50%.

Several programs were presented from Italy. In a successful school project for young people to promote exercise and healthy eating habits as part of the international HBSC study supported by the World Health Organization, the prevalence of overweight and obesity rose from 35.2 to 32.3 within four years (2008 to 2012) % be reduced.

In Spain, a public health initiative launched programs to promote physical activity in several regions. This includes the NAOS program, a successful nutrition and exercise program to combat obesity. The ALADINO program was set up to prevent overweight and obesity in children aged 6 to 9 years. The prevalence of overweight and obesity could be reduced by an average of 3.2% - in girls from 41.2 to 39.7% and in boys from 47.6 to 42.8%.

The Fit for Kids program in Denmark is a multidisciplinary diet and exercise program that has achieved success in several areas. The body mass index was on average 2.9 kg / m2 be reduced, the body fat mass by 3.3 kg. The waist and hips were reduced and the amount of daily physical activity increased.

In the first project phase of the EDDY program for the prevention of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents in Vienna, the focus was on young people. A significant improvement in nutritional knowledge and behavior was achieved in the intervention group. After two years, the body fat percentage was reduced (p = 0.085), while an increase was recorded in the control group (p = 0.095). In the second project phase, the program was carried out with children aged 8 to 10 years. In the baseline study, 18% overweight, 19.7% obese and 5.5% underweight children were registered. The first results of the recently completed follow-up show that the proportion of underweight children has been reduced to 3.6%.