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deterioration of healthy habits in children

The study notes the significant deterioration of healthy habits in children in the last three years.

In the presentation of this work, Pau Gasol pointed out the difficult health situation of boys and girls, since 33.4% are overweight or obese, a reality that is aggravated in the case of the male gender, the population of younger age and of lower socio-economic level.

The life habits of boys and girls are getting worse at all levels

The living habits of children in Spain are getting worse at all levels: emotional well-being, use of screens, physical activity, hours of sleep and food.

This is what the preliminary results of the PASOS 2022 study, coordinated by the Gasol Foundation -foundation of the brothers Pau and Marc Gasol to prevent childhood obesity- which also reveal that 1 in 3 boys, girls and teenagers between 8 and 16 live with obesity or overweight, specifically 33.4%.

Pau Gasol, president of the foundation, pointed out in the presentation of the study: “The childhood obesity epidemic is marked by social inequalities in health. In addition, the data from the PASSOS study indicate that the lifestyles of the child and adolescent population in Spain have deteriorated to a large extent in the last 3 years. We must activate resources and initiatives to ensure that all boys and girls in Spain grow up with equal opportunities.”

One in 10 boys and girls live with obesity and severe obesity

The second edition of PASSOS shows that obesity and severe obesity continue to be a challenge that needs to be addressed among children in Spain.

Severe obesity, the most serious case of excess weight, is consolidated in the population studied, as it affects 1.5%.

As for obesity, it presents 11.8% of boys and girls aged 8 to 16compared to 12.3% in 2019.

One of the hypotheses to explain this decline is the lower participation rate in PASSOS 2022, which could be related to the growing stigma around weight in our society.

This could be causing children and adolescents who are more overweight to decline to participate to avoid external judgment in the school environment, being excluded from the total figures of overweight, obesity and severe obesity.

To clarify this hypothesis, the PASSOS consortium will try to deepen the analysis on how this phenomenon could be introducing a relevant bias in studies such as PASSOS, which collect anthropometric data on site.

The Gasol Foundation proposes that all options be studied that make it possible to systematize and integrate this type of data collected in primary care pediatric consultations to improve the epidemiological surveillance of childhood obesity.

Almost half of the girls report feeling worried, sad or unhappy

The data from the PASSOS study show the harsh reality they live 4 out of every 10 girls between 8 and 16 years old in Spain: 40.1% declare feeling worried, sad or unhappy, a much higher percentage than children (23.9%).

A difference of similar magnitude is observed in the comparative analysis between childhood (20.4%) and adolescence (41.6%).

Within the quality of life questionnaire, this dimension is the one that shows a greater deterioration, which has probably been significantly influenced by the change in social dynamics experienced by children, and especially adolescents, during the health crisis of the COVID-19.

Screens, increasingly present in the lives of minors

Spanish boys and girls spend more than three hours a day during the week on screens, which far exceeds the recommendation of a maximum of two hours a day in front of devices such as computers, mobiles, tablets or television.

At the weekend, screen time is even higher: almost 5 hours a day (294.1 minutes).

After COVID-19, it is observed that the percentage of boys and girls who do not comply with the recommendation to use screens both during the week (64% in 2022 versus 54.8% in 2019) and at the weekend is increasing (83.8% in 2022 versus 79.6% in 2019).

This breach is greater for males (65.2% on weekdays and 87.7% on weekends) and adolescents (82.1% on weekdays and 93.4% on weekends).

Exposure to digital screens before bed can make it difficult for children to sleep. EFE/Marcial Guillén

Physical activity also deteriorates

So far, the preliminary results show that the average number of minutes spent practicing moderate or vigorous physical activity has decreased by 23 minutes per day in the period from 2019 to 2022, increasing the default in terms of the average of 60 minutes newspapers

The PASSOS consortium is collecting data through accelerometers which record any movement of the participants, and which will allow to know more precisely the level of physical activity of minors in Spain.

Almost half of the child population sleeps less than recommended

Data from the STEPS study show that only 54.2% of the population complies with the recommendation of hours of sleep during the weeka value similar to that of weekends (53%).

This breach grows by almost 6% compared to 2019 for weekdays.

More than half of teenagers (12 to 16 years old), 56.8%, sleep less than the recommended hours from Monday to Friday, while children (8 to 12 years old) are the ones who comply least with the recommendation. weekends, when almost half (49.1%) sleep less than recommended.

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet continues to decrease

The last 3 years have accelerated the trend that was already observed in the first edition of the PASSOS study: adherence to the Mediterranean diet is deteriorating among boys and girls. In the period from 2019 to 2022, the level of high adherence to this type of diet increased from 40% to 36.7%, which means that 6 out of 10 minors have an average or low level. In the same way, the percentage of children and adolescents with a low level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet is increasing (from 10.1% in 2019 to 12.1% in 2022).

In this area, the study does not reveal notable differences by gender, but it does according to age, since only 33% of adolescents aged 12 to 16 show an optimal level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet compared to a 41.2% of boys and girls.

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