It is in the Algarve and Alentejo that there are fewer overweight children

Children between the ages of 2 and 10 in the Alentejo and Algarve regions are those who, in […]

Children between the ages of 2 and 10 in the Alentejo and Algarve regions are the ones that, in the whole country, have the lowest percentage of overweight, both with a prevalence of 23,4%.

The data comes from the most recent study released this morning by APCOI – Portuguese Association Against Childhood Obesity.

APCOI analyzed a sample of 17.698 school-age children in the 2016-2017 school year, from the seven Portuguese territorial units (NUTS II).

Nationally, 28,5% of children in Portugal between 2 and 10 years old are overweight, among which 12,7% are obese, according to the results of the most recent study released this morning by APCOI – Associação Portuguese Against Childhood Obesity.

The regional results of the new APCOI study are even more alarming: children in the Azores were the ones with the highest percentage of overweight, with 36,6%, compared to the other Portuguese regions, being immediately followed by the Region of Madeira with 36,4%.

In the regional ranking of overweight students, the North Region with 31,4%, the Centro Region with 28,8%, the Lisboa and Vale do Tejo Region with 25,8% and finally the Alentejo Region and the Algarve, both with 23,4%.

The Madeira region had the highest prevalence of obese children with 18,4% and was the only region to record a higher percentage of obese students compared to pre-obese students.


Impact of the «Fruit Heroes» project on the Nutritional Status of students

The APCOI team of researchers analyzed the effects of the implementation of the 6th edition of the “Fruit Heroes – Healthy School Snack” project on changes in eating habits and nutritional status of participating students and the conclusions are encouraging: “comparing the initial data, with those collected after 12 weeks of participation in the project, it was observed that the percentage of children with obesity decreased from 12,7% to 11,3%, corresponding to an average decrease of 1,4%».

All regions verified a reduction in the prevalence of obesity with the participation in the “Heróis da Fruta” project, with the Region of Madeira recording the biggest decrease with a percentage of 2,9%.

It was also the Madeira Region that registered the biggest and most positive differences after the intervention of the «Heróis da Fruta» project, in all categories of the Nutritional Status, namely: reduction in pre-obesity (1,5%), reduction in Low Weight (1,9%) and Increased Normal Weight (6,2%).

Also noteworthy is the Algarve Region, which managed to achieve the greatest reduction in underweight with a percentage of 2,8%.


Registration for the 7th edition of the «Fruit Heroes» project is now open

After the success achieved in the last school year, registration for the 7th edition of the “Fruit Heroes – Healthy School Snack” project begins this week, which aims to continue to prevent childhood obesity in schools.

According to Mário Silva, president and founder of APCOI, "the «Heróis da Fruta» project is currently the largest free health education initiative in Portugal with the highest proven success rates among the children who participate in it."

"In the last school year, the project had the participation of 10% of the total universe of public and private educational establishments that exist in all districts and autonomous regions, but our goal is to reach 100% of schools in the country", added.

Adhesion to the 7th edition of the «Heróis da Fruta» project is free and available to kindergartens, 1st cycle schools, school libraries and ATL, public or private, only requiring a registration through the address or from the telephone number 210 961 868 until the 13th of October.


Study Methodology

This APCOI research was carried out with students participating in the 6th edition of the project «Fruit Heroes – Healthy School Snack» in the 2016-2017 school year.

Data collection, through the application of a questionnaire before and after the 12 weeks of project intervention, was reported to APCOI by teachers and took place between October 16, 2016 and January 20, 2017.

The global sample of this study is composed of 17.698 children aged between 2 and 10 years old from 388 educational establishments belonging to 139 municipalities in the 18 continental districts and in the two autonomous regions: Azores and Madeira.

The final report of this study will present more results on the eating habits and lifestyles of Portuguese children that will be publicly released by APCOI in the coming weeks.