Sports helps beat obesity

Malta has struggled with childhood obesity for a long time, especially since the WHO revealed Malta’s high rates in their most recent report. But things have definitely worsened.

The problem of childhood obesity in Malta is a serious one that is becoming worse. Young children find it difficult to eat healthy, and the lack of physical exercise just makes the issue worse.

An event to raise awareness on World Obesity Day which is commemorated on the 4th of March was held at the St Nicholas College Rabat Primary School on Friday. World Obesity Day promotes practical solutions to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, undertake proper treatment, and reverse the obesity crisis.

In both industrialized and developing nations, the prevalence of obesity has roughly quadrupled since 1975 and grown nearly five-fold in children and adolescents.

FIFA Assistant Referee Alan Camilleri who is also a long distance runner told students, “I was once obese, however my life changed when I decided to take up sport. Today I try to train twice a day, maintain a healthy diet and drink lots of water.”

Camilleri stressed the importance of sport in one’s daily life, which helps you physically and mentally.

Photos courtesy of Mark Zammit Cordina

The class chosen is one of the three Year 4 classes participating in the Fun Fit 5 pilot project. In this study 45 children from 3 different schools are taking part in a daily 45 minute physical activity to combat general sedentariness and the lack of fundamental motor skill. This pilot project is backed up by a study conducted by researchers at MCAST, who will investigate the findings and compare them with those of other children not participating in the project.

Dr Angelo Chetcuti, the Malta FA General Secretary was also present for the event and took the opportunity to highlight the fact that children can be active without the need of resources. He claimed that despite it being a rainy day, the kids engaged in activities inside of their own classroom with little to no resource use. To improve our sedentary lifestyles, Dr. Chetcuti recommended everyone to take part in such events and make time for physical activity.

Dr Melanie Darmanin (Senior Lecturer at MCAST), Ivan Woods and Mark Gatt from Inħobb il-Futbol Foundation, Bernard Farrugia and Nicole Sciberas who is one of the coaches that is leading the Fun Fit 5 sessions were present for the event.

Fun Fit 5 is the brainchild of a group of people coming from different entities, mainly the Malta FA, through the Inhobb il-Futbol Foundation, MCAST, the Centre for Physical Education and Sport within the Education Department, the Department of Health and the latest entity to join in, the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Enterprise.

Meanwhile the Inhobb il-Futbol Foundation, through the Women’s Department is organising an after-schools programme, which helps young girls enjoy football but also increase physical activity in their daily lives.

Girls interested in playing football can sign up for after-school classes through the Women’s Football Department. This is a part of their continuous initiatives to increase interest in the women’s game and give more girls—especially those between the ages of seven and ten—the chance to master the foundations of football.