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Number of overweight children steeply rising in Czech Republic

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Olomouc, North Moravia, May 17 (CTK) – The share of overweight children in the Czech population has considerably increased in the past 15 years and now about 25 percent of 15-year-old boys and 13 percent of girls of the same age suffer from overweight or obesity, shows an international study released on Wednesday.

The international report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) focused on the development of child obesity in 2002-2014.

“The trends in overweight and obesity occurrence, but also in passive lifestyle of children are strongly negative in the Czech Republic,” Zdenek Hamrik, from the Faculty of Physical Culture of Palacky University in Olomouc, which participated in the international study, told reporters on Wednesday.

The Czech Republic does not do enough to prevent child obesity and does not allocate sufficient finances to such preventive programmes, he said.

In 1998, 9 percent of 15-year-old boys suffered from overweight or obesity in the Czech Republic, while now their share amounts to one-quarter.

While West European countries have managed to halt the child obesity rise, the number of obese children keeps rising in the Czech Republic and other East European countries.

Child overweight and obesity are caused by the lack of physical activities and a bad diet.

Children from low-income groups suffer from overweight and obesity more often than their peers from well-off families.

Though Czech children still attend sport free-time activities, they lack everyday physical activities. They prefer spending their free time in front of computers and tablets, the study writes.

Hamrik said the situation could be improved easily if parents did not drive their children to free-time activities, but let them get there actively. The introduction od “active school breaks” would help, too, he added.

“Another modern trend is support for public infrastructure for sport and recreation in municipalities, either playgrounds for children, sport facilities or parks,” he said.

WHO Czech branch director Alena Steflova says the Czech Republic has an elaborated document on the protection of and support for public health that deals with obesity prevention, a healthy diet and the lack of physical activities.

However, the state fails to implement these plans in practice due to insufficient political support, she added.

Steflova also points to the high probability of obese children becoming obese adults with a high risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

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