More attention is now being given to childhood obesity, with several events taking place in the past couple of weeks on the topic. During these various events, the importance of physical activity as part of prevention measures was highlighted.
On July 13th, the Health working group of the ENVI Committee at the European Parliament organized a webinar on healthy lifestyles and fighting childhood obesity. MEP Sara Cerdas, Chair of the Public Health Working Group, emphasized how the childhood obesity rate increased in the last decade, reaching 30% in some EU countries. This is worrying because childhood obesity strongly increases the risks of developing non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Improving policies tackling childhood obesity is therefore particularly relevant and necessary.
Dr Kremlin Wickramasinghe, Programme manager for nutrition within the WHO NCD Office, explained that the WHO plan to end childhood obesity focuses on several aspects, which are the promotion of healthy foods, the promotion of physical activity and reduction of sedentary behavior, the improvement of guidance on preconception and pregnancy care, and early childhood diet and physical activity. Physical activity is thus a key part of the fight against childhood obesity.
Participants were reminded of how much obesity needs to be addressed, both for children’s health and wellbeing, but also for healthcare systems. It is important to promote awareness to develop the best prevention policies, which include diet but also physical activity. In addition to these works developed at EU level, the WHO also announced that new guidelines will be published soon.
Furthermore, two world cafes organized by World Obesity were organized, during which we discussed several European projects that address childhood obesity, such as STOP, JA Best-ReMaP, and PEN. These events also emphasized on the importance of nutrition but also physical activity to prevent child overweight.
Lastly, we participated in the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) workshop on advocating on obesity. During these four sessions, we exchanged opinions with participants on how to work on the best policies, how to engage with stakeholders, and how to best communicate on such topics.
This also highlights the necessity of the upcoming HealthyLifestyles4All initiative, which will be launched in September by the European Commission. As such, it was welcomed by all participants as it will allow the promotion of physical activity as part of prevention policies for a healthy lifestyle.