Obesity is a global public health problem. The prevalence of obesity and the risk of obesity is rising both in childhood and in adolescence throughout the world and also in Croatia. Although obesity causes short-term and long-term, direct and indirect effects on the health of an individual and the population, parents usually do not recognise it as their child’s health problem. Obesity may be primary or secondary, the causes endogenic and exogenic. Obesity most often occurs as a result of an imbalance between excessive intake and reduced consumption of energy. The clinical challenges are the relatively long, asymptomatic course, the objective diagnostics of obesity and obesity-associated diseases, and the most often frustrating results of treatment. Due to the very limited possibilities of treatment in childhood, prevention is the foundation of intervention. Prevention of obesity begins with the prenatal formation or correction of incorrect dietary and lifestyle habits. Primary prevention of obesity is aimed at anthropometric monitoring and education of the healthy population. Secondary and tertiary prevention of obesity comprises specific interventions through clinical and laboratory supervision of the population at risk of developing obesity, specifically adjusted to the individual needs of the obese child. Multi-discipline, continuous and professionally coordinated preventive programmes are the foundation for resolution of the problem of obesity in childhood and adolescence, which require the engagement and cooperation of families, the health and education systems, and the support of the media and the social community.
Irena Bralic is a head doctor (Primarius), a specialist paediatrician, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, and scientific associate at the Medical Faculty of the University of Split, permanently employed in a Specialized Paediatric Practice. She is the author and editor of the university textbook Prevention of Diseases in Childhood, the university handbook Vaccination and Vaccines, and the sold-out handbook for parents, How to Grow Up Healthy. She has published more than forty papers in recent journals, and she has been an invited speaker at many foreign and national conferences. She is the head of the scientific project of the Ministry of Science of the RC entitled; Secular changes in growth and the appearance of obesity during puberty. She is the head of category 1 courses in the life-long education of doctors, in the series New Challenges in the Prevention of Diseases in Childhood. Her narrow field of professional and scientific interest are preventive programmes in childhood and adolescence, vaccination, growth and development, and obesity. She is a member of the Management Board and Treasurer of the Croatian Paediatrics Society.