- Hans Weber
- December 1, 2023
Czech Republic to Launch Groundbreaking Screening Program to Combat Childhood Obesity
The Czech Republic is poised to introduce a pioneering screening program aimed at preventing obesity in children. Set to kick off in mid-2024 with the participation of the first thousand children under 11, this innovative initiative represents a significant step forward in addressing childhood obesity. While administrative and procurement delays pushed the launch date back by six months, the necessary funding has been secured, and the National Screening Program for children’s obesity prevention has received the endorsement of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics (ÚZIS). If successful, discussions will be held with insurance companies to expand the program’s reach, potentially impacting up to 80,000 children.
Petr Jehlička, the head of the working group and a pediatric cardiologist, emphasized the program’s ambition to extend beyond the pilot phase. The initial stage will involve monitoring the first thousand children closely for at least a year. Pediatricians will play a crucial role in identifying suitable candidates between the ages of 6 and 11, focusing on those with overweight conditions, not obesity.
To prevent these children from progressing to the challenging and difficult-to-treat stage of obesity, participants will be equipped with smart bracelets. These devices will continuously monitor their daily physical activity and record it in a dedicated mobile application. In the evening, with parental assistance, the children will document their daily food intake in the app. The application will not only motivate and encourage them to make healthy choices and engage in physical activity but also gamify the process, making it more engaging and conducive to behavior change.
Efforts are also underway to involve parents as active participants in this journey. Hana Cabrnochová, the vice-chair of the Association of General Practitioners for Children and Adolescents, highlighted the positive competitive aspect, where parents can share information and participate. By influencing parental approaches to physical activity and diet, the program aims to significantly enhance the children’s chances of success.
While the selection of participating medical practices is yet to be determined, some practitioners have expressed concerns about increased inquiries regarding the bracelets. In response, the possibility of establishing a helpline or website under the National Screening Center is being considered.
Childhood obesity is a pressing global concern, and the Czech Republic is taking a proactive step toward addressing it. With the number of obese children more than doubling since 2006 and approximately one in ten children classified as overweight, along with over 16 percent being obese, according to data from the Association of General Practitioners for Children and Adolescents in 2021, the need to tackle this issue is urgent. The innovative screening program offers hope for a healthier future for the nation’s children, emphasizing prevention as a key strategy in combating childhood obesity.
Article by Prague Forum