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Launch of ‘Code for a Healthy Life’ Campaign, marking the first World Cancer Day in Lerești

The Center for Innovation in Medicine, the coordinator of the 4P-CAN project, together with the Lerești Town Hall, organized a series of meetings with citizens on the topic of primary cancer prevention.

These sessions addressed obesity, nutrition, and sedentarism, previously selected by Lerești’s citizens through studies and actions.

About 10% of the community’s population, from preparatory class children to community seniors, participated directly in the meetings held on Friday, including members of the Citizens’ Jury

February 4, 2024, Lerești. The Center for Innovation in Medicine, in collaboration with the Lerești Town Hall, marked World Cancer Day for the first time in the rural area with a series of events held throughout Friday, February 2, 2024, dedicated to all age groups. The campaign launched on this occasion, “Code for a Healthy Life” aims to address three of the risk factors mentioned by the European Code Against Cancer—obesity, nutrition, and sedentarism—applying the principle of personalized communication: the right message, for the right person, at the right time.

“At the heart of the 4P-CAN project is the participation of citizens, alongside us, the research-innovation team, in rethinking how communication and education campaigns for cancer prevention are implemented. After all, essential scientific messages about obesity, nutrition, and even sedentarism have been known for years and are present in the public space, including in Romanian. What we bring new through this project is the personalization of these messages based on data obtained from continuous interaction with citizens, with the aim of maximizing their impact and encouraging the regain or maintenance of a healthy lifestyle,” explained Dr. Marius Geantă, coordinator of the 4P-CAN project and president of the Center for Innovation in Medicine.

The European Code Against Cancer’s recommendations for the three risk factors are the following:

  • Take steps to have a healthy body weight.
  • Be physically active in everyday life. Limit the time spent sitting.
  • Adopt a healthy diet (consume plenty of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits; limit high-calorie foods (foods high in fats or sugar) and avoid sugary drinks; avoid processed meat; limit red meat and high-salt foods).

Meetings with citizens on these topics took place throughout Friday, February 2, 2024, and were organized by age groups: a meeting with primary school students and their teachers, a meeting with middle school students and their teachers, a meeting with the local press, and the most important event of the day, the meeting with the citizens of Lerești during a Town Hall, honored by the presence of the Mayor of Lerești, Mr. Marian Toader.

“For us, each action we carry out together with the citizens of Lerești represents continuous learning, it’s like an open lesson from which we extract essential information for the next stages and to be able to adapt to the needs of the citizens. The concept of ‘living lab’ on which the 4P-CAN project is scientifically based allows us to adapt research-innovation strategies according to the reality on the ground and to transform this reality into advanced concepts, perhaps complex, but certainly much more effective than previous strategies,” explained Dr. Marius Geantă, who also mentioned some findings from the actions with citizens: “We were delighted to note, for example, that at the primary school age, the principles of healthy eating are well understood and applied by students. At middle school, the challenges are greater because there is a strong interference of social networks (especially TikTok) on several levels related to a healthy lifestyle: the more time a child spends on screens, the more sedentary they are, have unbalanced nutrition, and are exposed to the risk of obesity at young ages. Regarding the adults we interacted with, we noted an increasing interest and involvement in the topics we proposed, and we were pleased to receive, once again, suggestions for the next phases of the project.”

The “Code for a Healthy Life” campaign will continue throughout February in the local press and on social media, addressing each of the three mentioned factors weekly: sedentarism, obesity, nutrition.

10 useful things about sedentarism, obesity, nutrition, derived from meetings with citizens of Lerești:

  1. Sedentarism, obesity, and nutrition are major, yet little-acknowledged, risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases.
  2. It’s never too late to make changes in nutrition, physical activity, or decide to lose weight.
  3. Always focus on scientific truths and be aware that science is always dynamic, while myths are static.
  4. Eating habits are formed in childhood, in the first 3 years of life (the first 1000 days) – The taste of home is never forgotten!
  5. Hunger is a sensation regulated by complex mechanisms involving the brain, blood, and stomach.
  6. Several interventions can optimize nutrition: avoid eating while doing other activities (watching TV or using a tablet, mobile phone); include sufficient protein and fiber in your diet; reduce intake of refined carbohydrates – white flour, sweets, bakery products; drink enough water and reduce consumption of juices and alcohol.
  7. Any intensity of physical activity is better than none. Even if you don’t meet the recommended targets, health benefits still occur.
  8. If you are sedentary, start physical activity with small steps. Then increase the pace to your body’s tolerance level and recommended limits.
  9. Reduce sitting time and replace it with physical activities, even of low intensity (such as standing).
  10. Experts on these topics are not found on social media, but in professional institutions (medical, psychological, schools, gyms, etc.).

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