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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

New law aims to foster awareness of childhood diabetes, obesity

Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago

By The Star Staff

Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago announced on Sunday the new Law 115-202, which establishes as an educational objective orientation on and awareness of diabetes, hypoglycaemia and childhood obesity at elementary, intermediate and higher levels in the public education system.

“We believe that education is the key to preventing and addressing these health conditions and we are determined to provide our students with the necessary tools to lead healthier lives,” Dalmau Santiago said.

The proposed law, which amends the “Puerto Rico Educational Reform Act,” establishes that the “a school model tempered to the global reality cannot do without education about the health and well-being of its students, both physically and emotionally.

“Taking into account the importance of the inclusion of guidance and awareness on childhood obesity, childhood diabetes and hypoglycemia, this measure promotes and supports that guidance on the subject becomes a requirement within the public education system,” says the legislation promoted by the secretary of education.

Likewise, the legislation establishes, in coordination with the island Department of Health, a teaching workshop aimed at fostering guidance on and awareness of childhood obesity, childhood diabetes and childhood hypoglycemia. Given the public health situation regarding childhood obesity and the alarming numbers of minors with glucose-related conditions, “it is important that our population, from an early age, is well oriented and guided on how to prevent or treat this type of ailment.”

In addition, the legislation details that schools will have the obligation to implement this curriculum through regular academic offerings, or by integrating it into academic programs and other educational modalities.

“The schools, with the advice of the department, will provide two hours per academic year on guidance and awareness of obesity, diabetes and hypoglycemia [in early childhood], including lectures and printed information material,” notes the legislation in Section 67 of the referenced article. “These will emphasize the importance of preventing or treating the aforementioned conditions, as well as guidelines on healthy lifestyles.”

The proposed law refers to the fact that childhood obesity is recognized as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Studies indicate that overweight children have an 80% chance of becoming obese adults. In addition, diabetes, which has been one of the leading causes of death in Puerto Rico for more than two decades, has seen an increase in the child and youth population.

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