The SLOfit Barometer is a surveillance tool for tracking government action to combat the increasing child physical inactivity and obesity brought on as a direct result of COVID-19 isolation regulations.
The Republic of Slovenia implements the largest longitudinal database of child physical fitness – SLOfit.
Slovenia has some of the most physically active children globally, and it has responded rapidly to incorporate national physical activity (PA) interventions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite aggressive campaigns to maintain PA at home, the country has seen a tremendous decrease in child physical fitness over the past several months as self-isolation measures have been mandated by national authorities. Alarmingly, preliminary data on 20,000 schoolchildren has found the greatest decline in physical fitness since systematic testing began more than 30 years ago. Only two months of self-isolation has erased over 10 years of hard-fought health gains acquired from national public health policies and PA interventions. This crisis in child fitness has spurred researchers to seek immediate integration of community participation into public health policy and create a national bellwether system to inform policy makers, and the public, on progressive actions to combat this national health emergency. The SLOfit Barometer is a surveillance tool for tracking government action to combat the increasing child physical inactivity and obesity brought on as a direct result of COVID-19 isolation regulations.
The SLOfit Barometer monitors the successful implementation of countermeasures which are aimed at actively reducing sedentary behaviour and declining physical fitness performance in children. The SLOfit Barometer has been developed with support from the Slovenian Olympic Committee and National Training Institute Planica (School sport partner). After clicking on the Barometer, a subpage opens to present countermeasure details and how close a given item is to full deployment. Health care professionals and the general public also participate in the Barometer assessment through surveys, the results of which are published on the SLOfit website and promoted through social media channels to attract further participation.
Since the beginning of the global pandemic, national health measures in Slovenia have been focusing on the short-term challenges of limiting virus spread, but not on long term effects of isolation on the public health of its citizens.
As a result of these more aggressive, public service initiatives, a SLOfit proposal for inactivity countermeasures during self-isolation has been endorsed by an Expert Council of Government for Sport, and the participants of a national congress entitled “Sport for All”. UNESCO Slovenia has endorsed these actions and have used the SLOfit Barometer results in their presentations to address to the National government. This research serves as a model for other countries to devise their own surveillance systems to advocate for, and demand action on actions towards better public health, especially for vulnerable populations like children.
See https://en.slofit.org/ for more information, or link to the published academic article HERE.