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    Costa Rica Joins Continental Fight Against Childhood Obesity

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Ministers of eleven different countries responsible for the health and nutrition of American countries, including Costa Rica, will be represented today in Puerto Rico to study how to combat childhood obesity, which is an increasing threat to the continent.

    “For the first time, health ministers and public health officials from ten other countries will visit Puerto Rico to develop a joint work plan that addresses the problem of obesity in children,” announced the Puerto Rican Department of Health.

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    Participating countries include Aruba, where 37 percent of its children are overweight, and Mexico, where the problem affects 35 percent of teenagers.

    Also attending are representatives from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, Curacao, Chile, and Venezuela.

    This initiative, “Training on Prevention of Overweight and Obesity Children in Latin America and the Caribbean”, is driven by the Ministry of Health Promotion, the Department of Health of Puerto Rico and runs until Wednesday.

    In Puerto Rico, according to the 2005 study of dietary patterns in infants 4 to 24 months, 32 percent of babies were classified as overweight.

    Moreover, 41 percent of Puerto Rican adolescents are overweight or obese, according to a study by Towson University (Maryland) Professor, Alex Vigo Valentine, released by the Association of Physical Education and Recreation of the Caribbean island.

    According to Dr. Madeline Reyes, Assistant Secretary for the Promotion of Health, Department of Health of Puerto Rico, “It is essential to design joint strategies and include the sectors responsible for handling this situation. Similarly, we recognize that eating habits and physical activity are influenced by environmental and social changes. We need to develop a national plan that addresses this problem and we head towards that.”

    It is estimated throughout the world at least 2.8 million people die each year from being overweight or obese, conditions that increase the likelihood of cardiovascular problems, strokes, and diabetes.

    The organizers of this initiative believe that although training has been provided to prevent this problem, it has been found that the educational tools and knowledge on the subject is insufficient.

    The opening of this meeting will include talks from the first lady of Puerto Rico, Wilma Pastrana, Minister of Health of Aruba, Richard Visser, and Secretary of Health designated Puerto Rico, Ana Ríus Armendariz, among others. (EFE)

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