WHO Europe has published a new Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) report, measuring trends in overweight and obesity among primary school-aged children. Today, 1 in 3 school-aged children in the Region are living with overweight or obesity, and the rates are increasing in many countries. Prevalence is higher among boys than girls. This is a growing problem which needs to be urgently addressed, as it will have long-lasting consequences for future adults.
The report also gives figures regarding children’s lifestyles. Although 87% of children spend at least one hour per day in active or vigorous play (which is the WHO recommendation for physical activity for children aged 5-17), only 43% eat fruit every day and 34% vegetables. Furthermore, 43% spend at least two hours a day watching TV or using electronic devices.
Dr Kremlin Wickramasinghe, ad interim Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, emphasized the importance of accelerating actions in order to bring obesity figures down. He added that “we urgently need better policies that can help us reverse current childhood obesity trends – especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that is seen as a dangerous driver of overweight and obesity levels”
In the panel discussion which was organized as part of the launch event on 8 November, representatives from Member States underlined the importance of raising awareness and further developing cooperation between schools and parents, especially as the early stages of children’s lives are crucial for their future. It is also necessary to create the conditions that enable children to be sufficiently active and make healthy food choices. Developing cross-sectoral cooperation is of the utmost importance in order to achieve more and reduce obesity levels in Europe.
The full report is available here.