New report on childhood obesity in Europe

1 November 2022

Childhood obesity remains a major public health problem: 1 in 3 school-aged children in the European Region are living with overweight or obesity.

WHO Europe has published a new Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) report, measuring trends in overweight and obesity among 411.000 children aged 6-9 years in 33 countries (out of 45 countries that participated in the fifth round).

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.

“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”

Dr Kremlin Wickramasinghe, ad interim Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases

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.

It is of the utmost importance accelerating actions in order to bring obesity figures down.

The full report is available here:
Report on the fifth round of data collection, 2018–2020: WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (‎COSI)‎

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