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This is the first time that we are interested in obesity in children of this age.
One-third of children 3 to 5 years is overweight or is at risk to do so, a new fact that is of great concern to the Observatory of the toddlers, who compiled these figures, that the public health authorities.
“The issue of obesity and physical activity among toddlers is a significant concern,” wrote the Observatory of the toddlers in his portrait of 2017 issued on Tuesday. The document states that in the period 2012-2015, a child of 36 to 60 months on three were ” at risk of overweight, was overweight or obese “. This represents about 58 000 children in Quebec.
This is the first time that we are interested in obesity in children of this age. The Observatory of toddlers, a new organization funded by the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, went on to draw on data from the canadian Survey of health measures of Statistics Canada to extract the data specific to the 3 to 5 years.
“When you look at the statistics for the older children, it is in the same order of magnitude, then this is not really surprising to find these figures there among the children. By contrast, it demonstrates that the issues are already well established in early childhood, ” explains Catherine Déa, physician-in-council in the development of children and young people to the regional direction of public health of Montreal.
“This is a figure that concerns us, because we know that children who suffer from overweight or obesity during early childhood are often the ones who will suffer with overweight at primary and also at the adult age, adds Ms. Déa. However, the good news is that it is a period where the strategies put in place to encourage healthy lifestyle habits are more effective. “
The portrait of the Observatory is interested in a multitude of indicators, not just obesity. It has therefore not addressed specifically on the causes of childhood obesity, explains the managing director Fanny Dagenais. “The idea is to identify the red lights to go in-depth on some of the elements of concern in a future theme issues. But we know that there is a genetic component to overweight; toddlers whose parents are overweight have a higher risk of making it also. There is also an important component on the plan of healthy living habits of the family, even if the picture does not allow to determine the precise causes at this stage. “
Researchers have not been able to obtain data on the diet of toddlers, but they are focusing on physical activity and the time spent in front of a screen, two factors related to obesity of the children.
“According to the canadian guidelines on physical activity, children aged 3 to 4 years of age should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day “, a reminder in the portrait of the Observatory of the toddlers. However, one-third of children 3 to 5 years do not comply with these recommendations.
The data are even more disturbing when we reflect on the time spent in front of a screen. For children under 5 years of age, it should not exceed one hour per day for all screens combined (tv, tablet, phone), note the experts. However, “in 2012-2015, approximately three-fourths of children 3 to 5 years did not comply with this directive,” says the Observatory of the toddlers.
“Increasingly, the screens are part of our life, it is a growing phenomenon and it is one of the hypotheses to explain the fact that a little one in three is overweight,” says the doctor-public health council, Catherine Déa.
The authors of the new canadian Guideline in terms of movement over 24 hours ” is of interest also to the early childhood. The recommendation in terms of time spent in front of a screen remains the same, i.e. less than one hour per day, but is now part of an “integrated approach” which also takes into account, as for the larger, physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep, ” says Pierre Morin, director of operations in Quebec for PartipACTION who participated in the drafting of the new directive.
“An hour a day of screen, already it seems to me a lot, this is why we have hesitated a lot whether it is prohibited or not for the little ones of this age. But we are aware that, at times, it is a solution facilitative for parents to put the Pat Patrol to make the meal in peace. It is in 2017 and the screens, it is a reality that imposes itself. But it is necessary to put a limit on it. “