One of Spanish society’s biggest concerns is the need to adopt, from childhood, the good habits that allow for a healthy and full life.
The high prevalence of obesity here in Spain is the result of a number of factors, however the most important are related to technological progress, social and work conditions and modern lifestyles. These changes have altered eating habits and led to the rapid growth of sedentariness.
Given that habits are formed in the first years of life, schools are a prime place to implement health education and promotion programmes.
For this reason, the Ministries of Health, Social Services and Equality, and Ministries of Education, Culture and Sport, together with the Regional Departments of Health and Education in six autonomous communities, have implemented the PERSEO Programme (Pilot Programme in Schools for Health, Physical Exercise and against Obesity).
This programme consists of a collection of simple interventions for schools with the aim of promoting healthy lifestyles in pupils. It also involves their families and addresses both the dining hall and school environment in order to facilitate the choice of the healthiest options.
The programme is aimed at primary school pupils between the ages of 6 and 10, from 67 schools in Andalusia, the Canary Islands, Castile and Leon, Extremadura, Galicia, Murcia, Ceuta and Melilla, and will reach around 14,000 pupils.
The intervention measures will be introduced into 34 of the schools while 33 will act as a control. If the results from the intervention are positive, it may be extended to other schools and autonomous communities.
The programme’s main objectives are as follows:
To promote the learning of healthy eating habits and to encourage regular physical activity among schoolchildren, in order to prevent obesity and other diseases.
To detect obesity early and prevent it from progressing, through clinical evaluations performed by primary care health professionals.
To improve awareness, in society in general and above all in the school environment, of the importance that educators have in this field.
To create a school and family environment that encourages a balanced diet and frequent physical activity.
To design simple indicators that are easy to evaluate.
The planned activities include:
Anthropometric assessments at the beginning and the end of the programme.
Training for schoolchildren, families, school management teams and teachers.
Interventions in school dining halls.
Interventions in extracurricular activities.
El programa incluye material didáctico y de formación, propio o ya elaborado por los Ministerios de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad, y de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, a web page and a communication and awareness campaign.
The PERSEO Programme is under the management of a Committee comprising representatives of the Ministries of Health, Social Services and Equality, and of Education, in addition to the Regional Departments of Health and Education in the autonomous regions that are taking part in the programme. Furthermore, the programme has a Team of Experts made up of prominent specialists and professionals with experience in Teaching, Public Health and Community Nutrition.