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Growing in width (childhood obesity)


Lourdes Segade

Anna, Gabriel, Alejandro and Marta do not know each other –only Marta and Alejandro, who are sister and brother. Despite this fact they have lots of things in common starting by the obviousness of their overweight or, in the case of the two boys, their obesity. These four children are amongst the 26,3% of obese or overweight children and youngsters in Spain (between 2 and 24 years old), according to the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumption. And they are also part of the 35% of obese children in the world. It is not rare to find parents who think that their fat children will get thinner when they grow up. They do not know that obesity is a chronic disease and that there's no effective treatment for kids but the change of habits. Plus these parents are not aware that obesity is not a matter of image but that also can move on towards heart diseases, liver diseases or the most common thing in children: diabetes. Three of the kids in this reportage were contacted through doctor Joan Bel, children's endocrinologist at the pediatrics service of the University Hospital Germans Tries i pujol, in Badalona (Barcelona, Spain). Specially Gabriel and Alejandro are under strict medical control in order to avoid complications of their obesity since they are about to develop sugar intolerance. 'More than 95% of the cases are environmental and that means that changes of habits in the last 10 years have been unquestionably harmful for physical fit', says Dr. Bel. He affirms that feeding is deficient by excess and that there's a lack of physical activity. 'It is not necessary to eat a lot to get obese or overweight', Dr. Bel continues, 'just a little bit more than we need every day'. Going with these kids to the doctor shows a true intention of changing habits. But they cannot do it by themselves if families do not give example and once they are at home things do not seem to be so easy. Rewards under the shape of candy or confectionery, time spent playing video-games and little vegetables for lunch or dinner make it difficult to think of a happy end for these kids. 'I go to the swimming pool in order to lose some weight', Gabriel says proudly. But he surely consumes more calories than he burns. Also Alejandro is proud to say that he plays basketball, 'and I sweat a lot', he assures. So does Ana, who practices Kenpo, a martial art that helps her keep agile and coordinated. Ana is not yet an obese girl. Not even a very fat one. But her mother is worried about the possibility of raising an obese girl, like her sister was. Ana's aunt had to have an operation in order to prevent serious medical problems. She weighted 150 kilos. Ana follows a diet and plays sports and that makes her feel good. Though as any kid sometimes she eats candy and prohibited food and drinks. The four kids that appear in this reportage are under medical treatment and are aware of their problem. 'When I was younger some friends would pick on me because I was fatty. Now there are some of my friends who are also fat so they do not say anything to me. But I want to appear in this reportage to let them know that i will achieve it, that at the end I will lose weight', Alejandro explains. Something similar happens to Gabriel, another of the protagonists, who tells about his aim: 'I follow a diet and I feel much better. I go little by little but I will keep on struggling until i am as slim as a rake. I am thrilled about the idea of appearing in this photos because I can help to struggle some other kids who are overweight'. These kids have taken a way that can keep them away from some risks when they grow old. They have been lucky to count with their parents' help, the doctor's and some teachers'. But there are still lots of other children who without that help are increasing day after day the chances of being obese adults, with the dangers that come along with the disease. ------------------------------------- En 1998 l’OMS a déclaré l’obésité cause sanitaire mondiale. L’Europe n’est pas épargnée: l’Espagne se situe en seconde position, derrière l’Angleterre, des pays de la communauté où l’obésité infantile progresse de façon alarmante. « L’obésité progresse rapidement et la prise de poids de l’Europe a des conséquences dévastatrices pour la santé publique et un coût économique considérable », s’inquiète Markos Kyprianou, le commissaire européen en charge de la santé et de la protection des consommateurs. In 1998, the WHO (World Health Organization) declared obesity as a Global Epidemy. It is advancing all over the world. Only the poorest nations are, yet, far from a tendency that is starting to extend itself to countries like Argentina, where beside a kid starving there is another one with morbid obesity. Spain does not scape from this epidemy. In the European ranking of children obesity, this country is in the second place, right after England, and followed by Italy, Malt and Greece. 16% of Spanish children are obese or overweighted, over-doubling the rates they had fifteen years ago. If it continues growing with this rythm it will soon get to the almost 20% of the US. Maybe that day we will realize that being fatty does not necessarily mean being healthy, like our grandmas thought. And the danger of being late to be aware of the problem is that today’s fatty boys and girls can easily be tomorrow’s obese if they do not change some of their habits.


 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043497

After having tried on at least four trousers, Ana yet has not found her size. She often has to buy clothes in shops for adults as children clothes do not suit her, Madrid (Spain)

Madrid (Spain) - 13/03/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043495

Ana eats at lunchtime, Madrid (Spain)

Madrid (Spain) - 13/03/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043500

Ana prend son bain avant de se rendre à l'école. Elle prend soin d'elle, fait du sport plusieurs fois par semaine et bénéficie d'un suivi médical pour l'aider à trouver son équilibre. En 1998 l’OMS a déclaré l’obésité cause sanitaire mondiale. L’Europe n’est pas épargnée: l’Espagne se situe en seconde position, derrière l’Angleterre, des pays de la communauté où l’obésité infantile progresse de façon alarmante. « L’obésité progresse rapidement et la prise de poids de l’Europe a des conséquences dévastatrices pour la santé publique et un coût économique considérable », s’inquiète Markos Kyprianou, le commissaire européen en charge de la santé et de la protection des consommateurs. .Ana has a bath every morning before going to school if she has enough time, Madrid (Spain)

Madrid (Spain) - 17/03/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043533

Gabriel has a shower at the beach. He put four kilos on during his summer holidays, Badalona (Barcelona, Spain)

Badalona (Barcelona), Spain, Espagne - 26/08/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043522

Gabriel (11 years old) used to be a slim boy. He began getting fat four years ago. The showers at the gym are a good opportunity for other children's teasing and 'cruelty', Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain)

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 19/04/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043510

Bored of watching the basketball game where her brother is playing (with number 11), Marta (six years old) jumps with a rope, Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain)

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), Espagne - 13/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043534

Marta as she plays with a rope while the basketball game where her brother is playing goes on, Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain)

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), Espagne - 13/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043512

Alejandro waits to try a pair of sport shoes on. His sister, Marta, teases him, Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), Spain.

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), Espagne - 13/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043505

The scales is one of the things Alejandro is afraid of. In this occasion he does not get good news: he has put five kilos on in the last five months. This trend is not good for him, Badalona (Barcelona, Spain)

Badalona (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 10/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043524

Gabriel (11 years old) is allowed to play videogames only on weekends. Sedentarism caused by a change of leisure activities is one of the main causes of obesity in children

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 19/04/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043529

Gabriel is a great fan of ice cream, one of the things he shouldn't eat often

Barcelona, Espagne - 30/07/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043498

Ana checks the size of a trouser she likes. It is difficult for her to find clothes that suit her since sometimes kid's clothes are not her size

Madrid (Spain) - 13/03/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043499

Ana attends to kenpo (martial art) classes twice a week. It helps her to move with more velocity and agility. She once used kenpo to defend herself from a group of children that called her fat, Madrid (Spain)

Madrid (Spain) - 15/03/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043519

Gabriel (11 years old), used to be a slim boy. He begun getting fat four years ago. In the image, as he plays football during Easter holidays

Porrera (Tarragona, Spain) - 11/04/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043521

Gabriel (11 years old) used to be a slim boy. He begun getting fat four years ago. He's taking swimming classes in order to lose some weight

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona), Espagne - 19/04/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043523

Gabriel (11 years old) used to be a slim boy. He begun getting fat four years ago

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 19/04/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043503

Alejandro waits with his mother, Pilar, to have an ecography done. Doctors want to know if his difficulty to lose weight and the ease to gain it comes from a bad functioning of the liver or the thyroids

Badalona (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 10/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043748

The endocrinologist ordered an echography for Alejandro to make sure that his difficulty to lose weight and his ease to gain it doesn't come from a dysfunctional liver or thyroid, Badalona (Barcelona), Spain

Badalona (Barcelona), Espagne - 10/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043515

Alejandro has been the first to finish lunch since he does not have any problem to eat whatever he has to. Alejandro is following a diet supervised by a doctor since he is obese. At the weekend camp, his friends do not like the food today

Cerdanyola del Vallés (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 21/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043504

Dr. Bel as he examines Alejandro at the hospital Germans Trias i Pujol. He is a pediatric endocrinologist, Badalona (Barcelona, Spain)

Badalona (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 10/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043506

Dr. Bel, pediatric Endocrynologist, as he reads to Alejandro and his mother the medical history of the kid. Since his last visit, five months ago, he has put five kilos on

Badalona (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 10/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043496

Ana convinced her father to take her to an ice-cream shop. Häagen Dazs ice creams are another of her weaknesses

Madrid (Spain) - 13/03/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043525

Gabriel (11 years old) has some blood taken out in order to find the possible causes of his progressive increase of weight since four years ago

Badalona (Barcelona), Espagne - 29/04/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043526

Gabriel plays with videogames in the elevator of the hospital, as he goes to visit the Endocrynologist. His mother goes with him, Badalona (Barcelona)

Badalona (Barcelona), Espagne - 25/05/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043513

Alejandro plays with some friends in a weekend camp organised by the leisure group he attends to. He's big for his age, besides of being obese

Cerdanyola del Vallés (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 21/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043531

Gabriel drinks an iced tea after an afternoon snack in the beach with his mother and brother, Badalona (Barcelona)

Badalona (Barcelona), Espagne - 26/08/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043518

Every kid in the weekend camp has to eat an apple for dessert today. Marta (center) has to loose some weight and eating fruit is a good way

Cerdanyola del Vallés (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 21/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043516

Marta (left) and her friend place the trays in the cart after having finished lunch in a weekend camp

Cerdanyola del Vallés (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 21/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043511

Marta as she jumps the rope in a street where she lives

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 13/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043509

Alejandro as he does some exercises before a basketball game of the scholar league. Playing this sport helps him keep fit and not to lose agility

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 13/11/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043527

Gabriel (11 years old) used to be a slim boy. He begun getting fat four years ago

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 19/06/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043532

Gabriel has put four kilos on during his summer holidays

Badalona (Barcelona), Espagne - 26/08/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043520

Gabriel (11 years old), who loves drawing and copying manga comics, used to be a slim boy. He begun getting fat four years ago

Porrera (Tarragona, Spain) - 11/04/2004

 

Lourdes Segade / Picturetank SEL0043528

Gabriel watches TV right after getting home from a visit to the doctor

Santa Coloma de Gramenet (Barcelona, Spain), Espagne - 25/05/2004



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