Ideally, up to the school year 2026/2027, 200 affected children can be cared for each year – without incurring costs for the parents. “60 percent of people who die before puberty were overweight, remain so in adulthood. With chronic secondary diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver or cardiovascular diseases,” said pediatrician Holger Förster at the project presentation on Monday. Förster is also President of the Society for Preventive Medicine in Salzburg (AVOS), which implements “easykids”. The first courses start on Tuesday.
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With the internationally oriented project, which, according to the initiators, is unique in Austria, fat children and their lifestyle are supposed to change towards more and healthier nutrition. “easykids lasts 30 weeks, that is a school or kindergarten year”, project manager Angelika Bukovski from AVOS. One course unit is planned every week outside of the holidays. “These are either exercise units, nutrition units or psychosocial units that are supposed to help change behavior.”
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A free taxi service can be used where it is difficult to get to the course locations. The regular course units are supplemented by outdoor events or cooking workshops for the whole family. If desired, visits by dietologists to the family can also be arranged.
Less sport due to Corona
There is also a need for action because the corona pandemic with homeschooling and a lack of school and club sports have exacerbated the problem, Kinderart Förster extends. “We are breeding generations for the future who are too fat – and therefore have a greater risk of developing corona and other virus infections.” However, it is often difficult to convince dying parents that their child needs care. “The problem must first be accepted as a problem.”
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The ÖGK wrote to all parents of children in Salzburg and informed them about the project. Younger children can also be reached easily via mother-child pass examinations, but this is much more difficult with older children. “easykids” will also target people with a migration background and from poor socio-economic backgrounds. They are more affected – but exclusively.
The “easykids” project aims to combat obesity
“Easykids” is completely financed by the ÖGK. According to Federal Chairman Andreas Huss, the project is worth four million euros and is one of five Salzburg prevention projects that were chosen as a result of the merger of the regional health insurance funds with the state that was decided in 2018. Of the 177 million euros in general reserves that have migrated to Vienna, at least part will flow back for Salzburg projects.
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A prerequisite for participation in the program is an initial examination by paediatricians, who assign those affected to the “easykids”. In extremely obese cases – this group is estimated at around 2,000 children and adolescents in Salzburg – but when do other projects have to take effect.