Findings from a new review and meta-analysis of evidence suggest there has been a stabilisation of the trends in childhood excess weight in most European countries; however, the prevalence is rising in some Mediterranean countries.
As part of the study, researchers analysed data from 103 studies from 28 countries in Europe, which included 477,620 children aged between two and 13 years.
They found the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is high and increased from 20.6 per cent in 1999-2006 to 21.3 per cent in 2011-2016.
The authors highlighted “substantial differences between countries in both current levels and trends” with a downward trend in excess weight in the Iberian region and an increasing prevalence in Mediterranean countries from 22.9 per cent to 25 per cent. There were no substantial changes observed in Atlantic Europe or Central Europe.
Girls presented a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than boys in most European countries, although sex differences in the levels and trends of overweight and obesity were small, the authors noted.
Writing in JAMA Pediatrics, the authors cautioned “current interventions to address the excess weight epidemic should be maintained or strengthened because the prevalence of excess weight is still very high”.