UNICEF and Youth Klinic Moldova launch the campaign "Eat healthy!"

24 November 2023
 Ai grijă de tine - mănâncă sănătos!
UNICEF

Chisinau, 2023: The Public Association "Health for Youth", together with the National Resource Centre for Youth Friendly Health Services "Neovita" and with the financial support of UNICEF Moldova, launches the campaign "Eat healthy!" aimed at promoting healthy eating behaviour among adolescents and adults. The campaign's slogan is a call to eat healthily, without excesses and foods that can harm health.

The need to implement this campaign arose from the fact that the current generation of adolescents is growing up at a time of unprecedented changes in the food environment, where nutritional problems related to micronutrient deficiencies and food insecurity persist, and overweight and obesity are on the rise.

Teenagers have a tendency to choose convenient, affordable and seemingly "tasty" foods such as fast food, sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks, but these soon make you quickly exhausted, hungry, indigestion, thirsty and craving only very sweet, salty or spicy foods. In the long term, unhealthy diets lead to the appearance or worsening of acne, tooth decay, extra kilos.

Last but not least, such a diet leads to movement difficulties and a growing dissatisfaction with one's own body. Teenagers can also end up being teased by their peers about the way they look.

"The studies we do show that overweight and obesity are becoming an increasingly pressing problem for the health of adolescents in the Republic of Moldova. Obesity is not only about excess body mass, but also about the risk of medical problems, including pubertal development and the reproductive potential of the young generation.

We need to develop as many opportunities as possible for teenagers in communities to eat healthily and get as much exercise as possible, because adolescence is the ideal time to develop healthy skills, to lay the foundations for a healthy and balanced diet in a conscious way for life"said Galina Lesco, founder of Youth Klinic Moldova and gynecologist.

According to the Health Behavior Assessment in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, the proportion of overweight or obese adolescents in the Republic of Moldova is increasing - from 13.2% in 2014 to 17.2% in 2022. Overall, about a third of adolescents have abnormal body mass index - 1 in 7 adolescents is overweight and 1 in 5 - underweight. Overweight and obesity are more common among boys and underweight among girls.

Teenagers in Moldova, especially girls, are eating breakfast less and less often. Less than half (47%) of 11-17 year olds eat breakfast all day, and 7 in 10 eat it on both weekend days. Every 8th teenager never eats breakfast. With advancing age, the percentage of teenagers who eat breakfast every day decreases substantially, especially on work days. Only 44.7% of girls eat breakfast every workday, compared to 49.6% of boys.

"After early childhood, adolescence represents a second window of opportunity for growth, psychosocial development and the establishment of lifelong eating habits. Good and balanced nutrition during this period fuels the growing brain and body and improves school performance and cognitive ability. The significant increase in problems such as anemia, overweight and obesity among adolescents places nutritional problems among the greatest immediate threats to their health.

Yet today, many school-age children and adolescents fail to consume products that provide them with a foundation for a long, healthy and productive life.  Many teenagers skip breakfast, eat too little fruit, vegetables, fish and dairy products and consume snacks high in sugar, salt and saturated fat"said Angela Capcelea, UNICEF Moldova representative.

Worldwide, according to the 2019 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 7 out of 100 young people experience anorexia, binge-eating or bulimia - which are considered eating disorders.

Boys, for the most part, are more satisfied with the way their bodies look than girls, and they also rate their weight more frequently according to objective data. Girls, on the other hand, are increasingly dissatisfied with their appearance as they get older, and more often consider their bodies to be slightly or much fatter than the norm, even when the objective data show the norm or even below the norm.

As a result, every 5th 17-year-old girl is now on a slimming diet, 4 times more frequently than among boys of the same age. The intention of those who do not currently go on slimming diets but want to do so in the future increases with age for girls and decreases with age.

As part of the "Eat healthy!" campaign, several information materials will be developed to communicate to young people the importance of a balanced diet, tips for not overeating, the link between emotions and nutrition and how to start eating healthily. All materials will be available on the website - https://manancasanatos.yk.md.

Take care of yourself - eat healthy!

***
The "Eat healthy" campaign is part of a UNICEF project, implemented by the P.A. "Health for Youth" and the National Resource Centre for Youth Friendly Health Services "Neovita", in partnership with the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Moldova and the Chisinau City Hall

Media contacts

Angela Munteanu
Communication Officer
UNICEF Moldova
Tel: + 373 22 26 91 53

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