Although the Bolivian society is profoundly unequal, especially in terms of development and education, it is also the country that has seen the largest declines in poverty in the region. Bolivia’s vulnerable population is however growing fatter, and runs the risk of falling into or returning to poverty.
The city of Cochabamba is well known in Bolivia for its rich gastronomy and for its residents' fondness for a rich, varied and abundant diet which, in the majority of cases, is too caloric and lacking in nutritients.
A 2010 study found the overall prevalence of overweight children to be 20.9%, and an obesity prevalence of 3.2%. This study found that the prevalence of overweight and obese schoolchildren is increasing, principally among younger cohorts in rural areas, regardless of physical activity and food intake.
Childhood obesity has become one of the most serious public health problems globally, affecting 43 million children, the majority of whom live in developing countries.
Obese children are likely to be obese in adulthood and therefore are at greater risk of disability and early death.
The project aims to implement the first phase of a Cochabamba city school health programme to raise awareness among school-aged children and their parents to ultimately prevent chronic non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes, through the use of traditional and technological tools.
The project is targeted at school-aged boys and girls, aged 6 to 12, in state and private schools in the Cochabamba Department of Bolivia, their parents and school teachers, as well as the people working with school nutrition and school food.
The objectives include:
Collecting information to obtain current statistical data about the prevalence of excess weight, obesity and size changes in Cochabamba schoolchildren, carrying out a nutritional assessment in schools and taking anthropometric measurements.
Raising awareness and motivation for implementing the programme in schools, by running training and awareness workshops for schoolchildren, teaching staff and parents
Carrying out health information and promotion initiatives for Cochabamba schoolchildren and their families.
Giving guidance to parents about the benefits of healthy eating at home, f.ex. advice on how they can grow food in their own gardens.
The project also intends to change eating habits in schools, by running workshops on the preparation of healthy foods, and setting up healthy food kiosks in schools.
The Cochabamba families will be encouraged in the use of technological tools, the Internet and social networks to learn about food education.
Finally, the project partner, Vivir con Diabetes Centre, will provide treatment and support at the for school-aged children at risk
- School programme intervention implemented at 22 schools
- 4,000 pupils (in grade 1 to 6) reached in both public and private schools
- 130 teachers and school managers trained and enrolled
- 3,000 parents sensitised and reached
- Data on pupils’ BMI, dietary habits, physical activity and food consumption collected