• Assessment of causes of childhood obesity in 11 year-old Maltese children

      Micallef, Doreen (University of Chester, 2017-04)
      Objective The aim of this study was to show the rate of childhood obesity in 10 – 11 year old Maltese children attending year 6 in local primary schools in and to investigate whether a correlation exists between body mass index (BMI) and activity, screen-time, soft drinks consumption and sleep patterns in a cohort of Maltese children. Methods 103 boys and girls (47% and 53% respectively; mean age 10.4 years) were sampled from four different primary schools serviced by the state, Church and independent entities. The students’ height and weight were measured to determine their BMI. A questionnaire which dealt with the four areas under study was then distributed to all the participants. Data was analysed to determine whether the correlations under investigation were present. Results A negative correlation was found between BMI and (i) the number of different physical activities the students engaged in weekly, (ii) the average number of times that the students carried out these physical activities per week and (iii) the average number of hours of sleep per night reported by the children. A positive correlation was found between BMI and sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption. There seems to be no correlation between BMI and the different number of forms of screen-time the students engaged in or the total number of hours of screen-time although descriptive data shows that both factors increase with increasing BMI. 46 | P a g e Conclusion Similar studies on a larger cohort of participants should be considered in the future. The effect of involving parents, educators, general practitioners, paediatricians and other health care providers in the fight against childhood obesity should also be the primary focus of other studies.
    • Barriers to participation in cardiac rehabilitation in Malta

      Gauci, Marilyn (University of Chester, 2015-09)
      Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and morbidity worldwide. Patients who have had a cardiac event require special attention to regain their quality of life and to maintain and improve their functional capacity; which could be achieved through cardiac rehabilitation. Literature is continuously showing that cardiac rehabilitation needs to be recognised as part of the treatment to cardiovascular disease, as it is beneficial to the patient’s health. It reduces morbidity and mortality, improves exercise capacity, and through education enables the patient to adhere to lifestyle changes. Despite its proven benefits, cardiac rehabilitation participation remains low globally. Primarily, lack of knowledge and understanding of the importance of lifestyle changes and maintaining a balanced diet might hinder participation. Gender, age and level of education also plays a role in enrolling in the programme. Timing of cardiac rehabilitation also affects the patient’s decision to attend for rehabilitation. Early referral, especially during the patient’s hospitalisation by healthcare professionals, particularly doctors, is recommended to improve uptake to cardiac rehabilitation. Encouragement by staff enables the patients more to participate in such programme. Further research is recommended to identify the barriers which patients find in attending cardiac rehabilitation. Research should also focus on preventive cardiology programmes which should be easily accessible by all hospitals worldwide.
    • Is physical inactivity related to body mass index and waist circumference in a sample of Maltese adult population?

      Fallows, Stephen; Micallef, Maria C. (University of Chester, 2013-09)
      Physical inactivity and excess weight are two major public health problems (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2000, 2006). In 2008, the worldwide prevalence of overweight and obesity was estimated to be more than 1.4 billion adults (over 20 years), of these over 200 million men and almost 300 million women were obese (WHO, 2008). Furthermore, WHO (2013) estimated that in 2008, globally, 31% of adults aged 15 and over were insufficiently active (28% men and 34% women). This unhealthy behaviour was estimated to cause 600,000 deaths annually and lead to a loss of 5.3 million years of healthy life due to premature death and disability (WHO, 2002). If physical inactivity were to be reduced by 10‐25%, more than 1.3 million lives could be saved annually (Lee et al., 2012). In Malta, the situation is similarly grim. It is troubling to note that Maltese men rank top in European obesity chart and Maltese women place third (Eurostat, 2011). Furthermore, Malta is labelled as one of the most sedentary populations on earth (Stagno‐Navarro, 2012), with 71.9% of the population failing to meet recommended levels of PA (Hallal et al., 2012). It was estimated that Malta could gain an increase of 1.2% years in life expectancy if physical inactivity were eliminated (Lee et al., 2012). Lee et al. (2012) revealed that Malta has the highest estimate for coronary heart disease (CHD), type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer and all‐cause mortality, compared to other European countries, almost double to the European and Worldwide median in all variables (Table 1).
    • The prevalence of parent reported food hypersensitivity at school entry in Malta.

      Fallows, Stephen; Abdilla, Maria M. P. (University of Chester, 2016-09)
      Introduction This research aimed to provide local statistics in the area of food hypersensitivity in the paediatric population, as the prevalence of such allergic and non-allergic food hypersensitivity (intolerance) to food in Malta at the present time is previously undocumented. The main food which causes hypersensitivity in the population under study has been identified and compared to the main causes of hypersensitivity in other countries. Method Between January and March 2015, every school in Malta which includes Year 1 children (5-to 6-yr-olds) (N=83 schools) was invited to participate in this research study. Participant schools (n=42) were then provided with a questionnaire to be distributed to those parents who had previously reported food related hypersensitivity to the school through the health information sheet. Results The point prevalence for food hypersensitivity in the 5-to 6-yr-old participant population in the study was found to be 2.5%. Of the foods causing hypersensitivity in the studied group, milk and milk products were the main causes, affecting 38.9% and 30.6% of participant children respectively, followed by tree nuts (22.2%). 7 Conclusion The 2.5% point prevalence of Year 1 5-to 6-yr old children with food hypersensitivity, indicates the level of action required on allergic and non-allergic food hypersensitivity in Malta. This includes the need for school policy guidelines on food hypersensitivity. Such local statistics also indicate that the Health Department needs to direct attention to this field. This could possibly include the set-up of a state clinic that holistically assists all patients with heightened reaction to food.