Dr. Per Bo Mahler is an expert in
- Lifestyle Diseases
- Sports Medicine
- Public Health
- Childhood Obesity
Dr. Per Bo Mahler works in the Geneva Department for Youth Health, Canton of Geneva and at the Swiss Olympic Medical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.
Per Bo Mahler has always been fascinated by sport and exercise ever since he was a child. It has given him a wonderful source of physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. He has tried most sports and forms of exercise performing from the worst to the best levels of sports performance, and has always found it challenging and rewarding.
Marrying sports and exercise with his professional choice within medicine was difficult, since very little credit was given to sport and exercise in the 1980s and people smiled when he tried to convince them. Things have changed but he believes many challenges still remain. He focuses on the physical and emotional development of children, including those children with chronic diseases, and finds out how to create a health-promoting environments where exercise and sport becomes a natural and enticing part of their lives.
Dr. Per Bo Mahler has seen how the societal evolution towards performance at all cost, has left many behind, and he challenges himself and others to find a way where every child or person can find an environment where he can express himself in a non-judging, health-promoting way.
‘Movement is a fundamental thing we have engrained deep down inside our brains, and somebody who doesn’t move is essentially sick.’
‘Nutrition is more difficult, tobacco – you smoke a cigarette, people say I can understand this. Food that otherwise tastes good, and makes me feel good why should that be bad? It is more difficult to pinpoint things that are toxic and say, you know, you can’t eat that anymore.’
‘I think we’d rather not know that sugar is as unhealthy as it seems to be. And we do have more and more evidence to show that sugar really is, per se, toxic.’
‘We have definitely demonized fats for the wrong reasons in the past and fat is a fundamentally important thing for the development of the brain, for the development in general – hormones.. there are so many things that depend on fats.’
Close up and Personal
Tania Cotton met up with Dr. Per Bo Mahler in Saint Gervais, France, to ask about the importance of movement in people’s lives and how we can prevent childhood obesity. Watch his full interview here (or select a topic to view below).
Section 1: What are ‘Health Promoting Environments’?
Q: As a child, was physical activity a big part of your life?
Q: What is your professional background and what is it, exactly, that you do?
Q: What is the work you do in schools to promote physical activity?
Q: Why is regular physical activity so important?
Q: For people to be physically active, do they first need to develop the physical competencies and confidence to participate not only in sport but in life?
Q: In the school systems today, have we forgotten the importance of curiosity and play in developing life skills?
Q: Is ‘sport’ in schools focusing too much on competition and not enough on foundational movement skills?
Q: Do you think we need to reframe the perception of what people think is success?
Q: Should education be about helping us use both sides of our brain – the creative side and the logical side that finds structure and order in things?
Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/237460621 (22’56”)
Section 2: How Can We Adopt Healthy Eating Habits and Manage the Pressures of Life by Being Physically Active?
Q: The healthy eating programme you promote in schools – how do you get young people engaged?
Q: Research suggests that sugar is not good for us, and moreover, that fats are essential for our health?
Q: Have we demonized fats? Yes, there are bad fats, like trans fats; yet are some fats not essential for brain development?
Q: What are the potential benefits of just eating good ‘real food’?
Q: Do we need to be careful not to stigmatize overweight children?
Q: Are there more pressures on kids growing up today than there were in the past?
Q: What do you mean by saying ‘weak psychologically’? Do we perhaps need to become more tolerant of the fact that we are all different?
Q: Can you give us some insight into eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia? Are they driven by a fear of failure or pressure to be perfect?
Q: A lot of children put a lot of pressure on themselves – is this a personality trait that puts them at risk?
Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/237465217 (17’22”)
Section 3: Health, Human Performance and Successful Aging
Q: What does health mean to you?
Q: What does performance mean to you?
Q: Aging successfully – what does this mean?
Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/237469263 (6’07”)
Useful Website links:
- Effective health promotion through movement and sport: http://www.hepa.ch/
- Physical activity and disease prevention: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/physical-activity/activities/hepa-europe
- Global Physical Activity Network: http://www.globalpanet.com/