30% of Children Fat

Iranians will struggle with chronic diseases if responsible bodies as well as families do not take effective actionIranians will struggle with chronic diseases if responsible bodies as well as families do not take effective action

About 30% of Iranian children are obese, according to head of epidemiology at the Health Ministry’s endocrinology research center.

“Physical activity has dramatically declined among today’s children, and nutritious healthy foods have been replaced by fattening junk food” Davood Khalili was quoted as saying by IRNA on Sunday.

The obesity rate is alarming, and the next generation of Iranians will struggle with chronic diseases and physical disorders if responsible bodies as well as families do not take effective action, he warned.

Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults (18 years and older) and 41 million children (under the age of 5) were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese.

According to a new survey by the ministry, over 60% of adults in Iran are either overweight or obese, and the problem is more prevalent among women (over 30%). The Education Ministry has prioritized the issue of obesity in students, and has drawn multiple programs to address the issue, including intra and inter school sport competitions, increasing physical education hours in weekly curriculums, and eliminating junk food from school cafeterias.

Several campaigns and exhibitions to boost students’ physical education (PE) literacy are underway in schools at all levels across the country.  

The awareness raising campaign conducted by the Health Ministry’s Education Office is in line with the National Self-Care Program which is the fifth goal of the 2014 Health Reform Plan.

“All school curriculums have been updated with brochures on healthy lifestyle tips,” said Dr. Shahram Rafiei, director general of the office, as reported by Mehr News Agency.

He stressed the importance of physical education on par with reading and writing skills.

According to Mehrzad Hamidi, physical education and health deputy at the Health Ministry, the number of hours allocated to PE in school curriculums in the country is close to global standards.

“Over 21% of the student population is obese,” Hamidi had said earlier at the 5th general assembly of Student Sports Federation, warning that if current trends continue, “Iran will face a tsunami of non-communicable diseases among the next generation.”

Physical education and training in primary schools accounts for 99 minutes of the weekly curriculum, and 90 minutes in middle school. The average period of PT in the world is 97 minutes per week for elementary schools, and 99 minutes for middle schools. The time allocated for PE in high schools is expected to increase to 90 minutes from the current 60 for 11th grade (penultimate grade) in the upcoming academic year (begins September). A full hour per week will also be added to the curriculum of high school seniors who didn’t previously have PE.

Between 2000 and 2013, the number of hours allocated for PE saw a declining trend worldwide. It dropped from 116 minutes per week in 2000 to 97 minutes in 2013 for elementary schools, and reduced from 143 minutes per week in 2000 to 99 minutes in 2013 for middle school.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints