New research from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that despite efforts aimed at prevention, parts of the WHO European Region continue to struggle with comparably higher rates of childhood obesity.
As part of a new study, researchers examined data from the first three rounds of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI), which was established to estimate prevalence and monitor changes in overweight and obesity in children aged 6-9 years. A total of 636,933 children were included in the analysis.
The researchers found the prevalence of severe obesity varied greatly among countries. According to the WHO definition, severe obesity ranged from 1 per cent in Sweden and Moldova to 5.5 per cent in Malta. Countries in Southern Europe had the highest prevalence of severe obesity, above 4 per cent, while countries in Western and Northern Europe, including Belgium, Ireland, Norway and Sweden, had a prevalence of less than 2 per cent.
The data suggest that there are almost 400,000 children aged 6-9 years living with severe obesity, out of around 13.7 million children in the 21 participating European countries.
The research is published in Obesity Facts, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO).