Children in Portugal eat four times the amount of protein they need – and much too much sugar

Children in Portugal eat four times the amount of protein they need – and much too much sugar and salt.

22% of them (that’s one in three, from the ages of 5 to late teens) are ‘pre-obese’ (ie seriously overweight) while 10.4% are obese.

This is the message coming from national health authorities on World Obesity Day.

As a country, Portugal is ‘above the EU average’ when it comes to child obesity, and the general directorate of health (DGS) wants to turn this situation around.

Its messages about healthy eating, smaller portions, and the perils of allowing children sugary drinks (no matter how much they want them) are being relayed across national and social media today.

The fact that so many ‘overeat’ when it comes to protein requirements is playing very much into the hands of those who believe we should all change our diets, and reduce consumption of meat and dairy.

Explained Maria João Gregório of the national programme for healthy eating, meat and dairy products are responsible for “around 60% of proteins consumed by children, who eat these foods in quantities similar to those of adults, when they should consume much smaller portions”.

Gregório dispelled the myth that children need to eat more, saying under 6’s should never eat more than two portions of 25 gms each of fish or meat per day.

Further data being bandied about suggests 52% of children between the ages of 3-6 consume sugary drinks every day, 10% of children between the ages of 1-3 consume sweets and puddings every day, and all children under the age of 6 consume more salt than is healthy for them.

Conversely, 52% of children aged between 3-6 do not eat enough green vegetables.

The results are all too plain to see: an adult population in which obesity and all its related health issues are much too prevalent.

Last year’s “Health Portrait of Portugal” showed that 5.9 million Portuguese were overweight (basically 1 out of every 2 people), with 8 out of 10 pensioners carrying more kilos than they should.

As for exercise, less than half the population was practising this on any kind of regular basis.

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