Childhood Obesity On the Rise in Europe

In some countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region, 1 in 3 children aged 6 to 9 years is living with overweight or obesity. Mediterranean countries have the highest rates of obesity, but the situation there is starting to improve. These are some of the findings of a new WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) report on the fourth round of data collection (2015–2017). The report gives the latest data available on 6- to 9-year-olds in 36 countries in the Region.

Key findings

  • Overall, the prevalence of overweight (including obesity) was 29% in boys and 27% in girls aged 6 to 9 years; the prevalence of obesity was 13% in boys and 9% in girls. These figures hide wide variations between countries.
  • The highest proportions of childhood overweight and obesity were observed in Mediterranean countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Spain.
  • The lowest proportions of childhood overweight/obesity were observed in central Asian countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Physical activity

  • On average, 1 in 2 children used active transport (walking or cycling) to and from school. In all countries, most children spent at least one hour per day playing outside (ranging from 62% to 98% in different countries).
  • Children with more educated parents were more likely to engage in sports/dancing in most countries. On the contrary, children of less educated parents were more likely to walk or cycle to and from school.

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Source: National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine