Thirty-nine percent of Brazilian children are either obese or overweight, a 1,000 percent increase over the past 40 years, Brazilian researcher and physician Victor Rodriguez Matsudo, one of the authors of the International Study of Child Obesity being carried out in several countries, said Monday.
Matsudo spoke with Efe and said that the rate is "extremely high," and he warned that the trend is for the percentage to continue rising.
"The trend is dramatic because the number of children who are overweight is much greater than those who are obese, such that in the near future the number of obese infants will increase," he said.
Matsudo said that, according to the figures gathered in the study, physical activity performed by teenagers is greater than that by children around puberty, and the latter exercise more than kids who attend elementary school.
So, the younger that children are the less exercise they get, a dynamic that, the scientist said, is "alarming."
He said that, in his opinion, children ages 7-8 "are not doing anything" and so "they don't have a pleasant experience of physical activity" and spend the whole day on the Internet because "their mothers think it's nice that kids 2 years old know how to use it."
Mothers also think that is "marvelous" - he said - because they know their children are safe when they're sitting at home in front of the computer rather than playing outside.
"They are condemning the children of the future because if they don't feel pleasure in physical activity at their age, how are they going to feel when they're adults?" Matsudo asked rhetorically.
He also said that there is a 90 percent probability that a sedentary child will become a sedentary adult and emphasized that "Today Brazil is vying with China to be the country with the greatest weight increase per person per year" and he noted that citizens of the South American country are increasing in weight by an average of half a kilogram (about 1.1 pounds) per person per year, which he called "a disaster."
Matsudo also said that Brazil will have "dramatic public health situations" in the coming years due to the "passive view" taken by the government in Brasilia.
He concluded by saying that although Brazil has "a national program of health promotion, ... in reality it doesn't work."
The government "likes to have plans for everything," but in this area the program "is perfect on paper, but in practice it's another story," Matsudo said. EFE