Country – Hungary
Obesity is a serious health risk and largely preventable through changes in lifestyle. Epidemiological studies have suggested that metabolic programming is one of the critical factors contributing to the etiology of obesity as well as concurrent increase in related chronic diseases.
Surveys have shown the prevalence of overweight among school age children to be as high as 35% in parts of Europe and it is increasing in several countries. This rate increased from 12% to 16 % in Hungary between 1980 and 1990’s and Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) found the rate of overweight to be 23% among 7,0 - 7,9 years old children in 2009/2010.
Obesity Update 2012 reported the obesity epidemic slowed down in several OECD countries. Many governments have made efforts to tackle the root causes of obesity.
Keeping in mind the above mentioned facts, Hungarian Dietetic Association (HDA) together with Association of Mother, Child and Public Health Nurse (AMCPHN) organized the Congress on the topic of Child Nutrition.
Our first speaker addressed the importance of iodine in pregnancy. The Hungarian drinking water is 80% deficient in iodine; so he suggested high iodine content mineral water. He emphasized the negative consequence of high salt intake, and the role of vitamin B group (B2;B6; B11/ Metilen Tetra Hydro Folate Reductase ( MTHFR), B12 and Folic acid) in the serum homocysteine level and Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) including spina bifida.
There was a study in 2011 on the eating habits of 1-3 year old children supported by Hungarian Paediatric Association. The results showed mothers do not feed their children properly. The amount of energy consumption was close to the recommendation but the diet was high in saturated fat and added sugar. Vitamin D, folic acid and iron intake were insufficient in 1/3 of the children.
The President of Hungarian Association of Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition reported their initiative and experiences about the new paediatric oncological patient nutritional risk screening method. 31% of the children were malnourished during hospital admisson. They were assessed by clinical dietitians and 13% got clinical nutrition therapy.
The president of the AMCPHN gave a presentation on poverty and child malnutrition. Income differences and social inequalities have increased, and a large proportion of Hungarian society lives in poverty. In 2009, 21% (380000) Hungarian children lived in poverty. Roma/gypsy families make up a quarter of those living below the subsistence level and about half of those living on social security benefits caused by many different reasons.
There were presentations about the civil activities of the Association for Children with Asthma, the antioxidants’ role in anti aging, the function of fructose and fatty acids in healthy nutrition, ketogenic diet and the influence of TV on the eating habits of children. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Nutrikid health promoting programme adapted for Hungary by HDA. In 2011 the collected data showed that the children trained by Nutrikid were more health conscious. According to the teacher who works in this project, Nutrikid has had positive effect on the families too.
In the round table, the National Institues, food industry and NGOs were represented.
Recent results of the researches regarding the healthy lifestyle and nutrition in Hungary and wordwide were discussed. The importance of the cooperation between professional bodies, food industry, media, NGOs and political decision makers was agreed upon. Demand for better school meal; more information about healthy nutrition, proper child feeding and lifestyle for professionals and population were declared.
Good practices and plans involving dietitians to improve child nutrition were gathered – taxes on undesirable foods, school catering regulation, brochures for kids, caregivers and parents, adapted international programmes, homepage for adolescents, AndroiDieta for teens, periconceptional consultation for family planning couples, outpatient department for teens, CD with healthy food recipes for kids, videos on how to prepare them and DVD on how to organize health promoting day.
In Hungary these trends indicate the growing prospects and role of dietitians in prevention.
Izabella Henter RD, MSc
Clinical Dietitian, Nutritionist, Hungarian National Institute of Child Health
Member of the Hungarian Dietetic Association (MDOSZ)