¿How was SA·FA·LÍN born?
Childhood overweight and obesity represent one of the biggest challenges for epidemiology, public health, and societies in general. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), childhood overweight and obesity affects 340 million children between ages 5 and 19 around the world.
Obesity among children is a risk factor for social isolation, depression, cardiovascular disorders, type II diabetes or cancer, among other chronic noncommunicable diseases, and growing up in a family with little resources increases the probability of suffering from childhood obesity.
With this in mind, the Gasol Foundation initiative emerged, using the metaphor of the “Healthy Galaxy” to introduce the key messages of a healthy lifestyle to vulnerable families through the SA·FA·LÍN project.
SA·FA·LÍN (Health · Families · Childhood) was born in 2017 in Sant Boi de Llobregat (Barcelona). In 2018, in coordination with the local government and in collaboration with schools and community centers, the Gasol Foundation has contributed to the improvement of the lifestyles of more than 100 children between the ages of 6 and 12.
Objectives and Methodology
The objective of SA·FA·LÍN is to reduce obesity among young people; adopting a unique wholistic approach that not only uses sports and physical activity to combat sedentary lifestyles, but also works with the other three pillars: healthy eating, rest and emotional well-being. To achieve this, the mothers and fathers of the children are involved in the process in order to promote family activities and healthy lifestyles in the household.
In 2018 we worked with more than 80 vulnerable families. This translates to 104 children between ages 6 and 12, of which, half were part of the intervention group with which we conducted 8 workshops.
Results of the SA·FA·LÍN project
This project has produced very good results among the more than 40 families with whom we actively worked. At the end of the program, a significant increase in the level of adherence to the Mediterranean Diet was observed among the families we actively worked with, while the quality of diet among the families with whom we did not work with worsened. This demonstrates the need to focus efforts on the most vulnerable families, as it not only slows the deterioration of habits, but also helps to improve them.
It is also important to note the improvement of the emotional wellbeing among the families in the intervention group, which, after the final questionnaire, have shown improvement of emotional problems, behavioral problems, and problems with peers. However, for the families in the control group, a certain regression is identified.
We should not downplay the importance of emotional well-being, as it is responsible for keeping the mind and body in tune. If children feel emotionally healthy, their willingness to participate in group activities increases, which will lead to an increase in physical activity and, therefore, in the prevention of Childhood Obesity. Emotional well-being also helps reduce irritability and improve communication with parents, which leads to a good family environment and the full development of children.
Thus, we successfully conclude the 2018 year with results that show a favorable trend toward the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
This year, SA·FA·LÍN has returned stronger than ever in its second edition, with the support of the Nike Community Impact Fund. Since the closure and evaluation of SA·FA·LÍN 2018, we are continuing to work with families and children, focusing on those healthy habits that require more reinforcement. The journey through the Healthy Galaxy and learning continue!