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32nd International Congress on Childhood Obesity

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Experts from 10 countries, including Bulgaria, USA, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, together with representatives of the World Health Organization, will discuss the problems of childhood obesity at the 32nd International Congress on Childhood Obesity, hosted by the Bulgarian resort of Albena. Aspects of the health problem related to prevention, dietetic approaches to therapy, physical activity and screen time, psychosocial aspects, pharmacology and bariatric surgery in childhood will be addressed.  

"The latest World Health Organization report from 2022 showed that 1 in 3 children in the European region who are preschool age are overweight or obese. For Bulgaria, the data shows that for boys in the same age category 32% are overweight, including 15% who are obese, while for girls 29% are overweight, including 12% who are obese. The World Obesity Federation expects the prevalence of obesity among boys to increase from 10% to 20% and among girls from 8% to 18% by 2035. By 2030, the prevalence of childhood obesity is projected to increase by 60% worldwide," said Assoc. Dr. Teodora Handjieva-Durlenska, President of the Bulgarian Association for the Study of Obesity and Related Diseases, which is also the organizer of the event, together with the European Group on Childhood Obesity. She added that childhood obesity has doubled in the last 10 years, and this can affect health mentally, physically and emotionally, leading to more than 250 problems including diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, some cancers and reproductive dysfunction. "The main risk factors for childhood obesity are related to genetic predisposition (40-70%), environmental factors (30-60%) and individual factors. Of the environmental risk factors, the most important are dietary factors such as irregular eating, skipping breakfast, food composition, portion size, intake of sugar and glucose-fructose syrup containing beverages, eating in front of the TV, low physical activity and immobility, characteristics of the gut microbiome, sleep duration and family as a role model," she concluded.  

Krasimira Stoyanova, Manager Sustainable Development and Green Transition at Albena Resort, said that the holiday village has for several years followed a strict policy regarding the food offered in the restaurants of the complex in the direction of more environmentally friendly and nutrient-rich dishes, as well as the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, applying prevention and investment in own production of raw materials. "Today, we independently produce about 60% of our fruits and vegetables, care for Black Angus beef calves, and have hundreds of beehives. We host the annual "School for Health" initiative, where children, parents and teachers learn together about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, as well as making the natural resources of the complex freely available to guests - the healing mineral water, the Balata Nature Reserve, the Blue Flag beach area. Together with the specialists from MedSPA "Medica - Albena" we have developed specialized programs for the treatment and rehabilitation of problems related to obesity. We develop and promote conditions for an active lifestyle, she added. 

Prof. Caroline Braeth from the University of Ghent, Belgium, shared the experience of the Western country trying to tackle the problem. In the Belgian kingdom, she said, since the beginning of this year, 25 clinics have been providing state-funded multidisciplinary treatment programmes for overweight and obesity, at school children are allowed to drink only water, and school doctors regularly monitor all students up to the age of 18, with free recommendations and treatment plans provided to parents when necessary. A national 'Run, Dad, Run' programme has also been launched, which requires parents to engage in regular physical activity with their children.    

The International Congress on Childhood Obesity will run until 9 September, at the end of which participants will publish a formal statement to be published in thematic scientific journals.  

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