On August 10th, the Ministry of Health of Brazil launched a national campaign on childhood obesity. The campaign includes several actions to contain the advance of childhood obesity in the country, including two new decrees. The first institutes the National Strategy for the Prevention and Care of Childhood Obesity (Proteja), which seeks to connect initiatives in the states, the Federal District and municipalities. The initiative, which is supported by the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, is in line with information contained in the Policy Brief launched by the Nurture the Future project, which is a partnership between the WFP Centre of Excellence, the Ministry of Health and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency.
The document called “Childhood Obesity – strategies for prevention and care (at the local level)” showcases information to contribute to the creation of strategies by municipal and state public managers for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. The Policy Brief, available here in Portuguese and Spanish, is composed of six objective questions and answers to facilitate understanding of a topic so sensitive that it could change the reality of your municipality. Thus, Proteja is a national call to all managers, health professionals, civil society and partners to recognize childhood obesity as an important public health problem and share the responsibility for the implementation of effective measures in the prevention and care of childhood obesity.
Brazilian Epidemiological Scenario
At the launch of the campaign, the General Coordinator of Food and Nutrition at the Ministry of Health, Gisele Bortolini, pointed out that poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive sedentary behaviour are among the main risk factors for overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. According to official data, around 86% of Brazilian children and adolescents consume ultra-processed food daily and around 81% are considered physically inactive.
Gisele Bortolini also pointed out that data from the Food and Nutritional Surveillance System (SISVAN) indicated that among the children monitored in the Primary Health Care (PHC) of the national health service, 15.9% of children under 5 and 31, 8% of children between 5 and 9 years old were overweight in 2020. Also, 7.4% and 15.8%, respectively, were obese, according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) for their age. As for adolescents followed up in PHC in 2020, 31.9% and 12.0% were overweight and obese, respectively.
Learn more about actions to combat obesity taking place in Brazil: