Publications by authors named "Ana Rito"

31 Publications

Parental Perceptions of Children's Weight Status in 22 Countries: The WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative: COSI 2015/2017.

Obes Facts 2021 Nov 5:1-17. Epub 2021 Nov 5.

Observatory of Nutrition and Study of Obesity, Spanish Agency for Food Safety & Nutrition, Ministry of Health, Madrid, Spain.

Introduction: Parents can act as important agents of change and support for healthy childhood growth and development. Studies have found that parents may not be able to accurately perceive their child's weight status. The purpose of this study was to measure parental perceptions of their child's weight status and to identify predictors of potential parental misperceptions.

Methods: We used data from the World Health Organization (WHO) European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative and 22 countries. Parents were asked to identify their perceptions of their children's weight status as "underweight," "normal weight," "a little overweight," or "extremely overweight." We categorized children's (6-9 years; n = 124,296) body mass index (BMI) as BMI-for-age Z-scores based on the 2007 WHO-recommended growth references. For each country included in the analysis and pooled estimates (country level), we calculated the distribution of children according to the WHO weight status classification, distribution by parental perception of child's weight status, percentages of accurate, overestimating, or underestimating perceptions, misclassification levels, and predictors of parental misperceptions using a multilevel logistic regression analysis that included only children with overweight (including obesity). Statistical analyses were performed using Stata version 15 1.

Results: Overall, 64.1% of parents categorized their child's weight status accurately relative to the WHO growth charts. However, parents were more likely to underestimate their child's weight if the child had overweight (82.3%) or obesity (93.8%). Parents were more likely to underestimate their child's weight if the child was male (adjusted OR [adjOR]: 1.41; 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 1.28-1.55); the parent had a lower educational level (adjOR: 1.41; 95% CI: 1.26-1.57); the father was asked rather than the mother (adjOR: 1.14; 95% CI: 0.98-1.33); and the family lived in a rural area (adjOR: 1.10; 95% CI: 0.99-1.24). Overall, parents' BMI was not strongly associated with the underestimation of children's weight status, but there was a stronger association in some countries.

Discussion/conclusion: Our study supplements the current literature on factors that influence parental perceptions of their child's weight status. Public health interventions aimed at promoting healthy childhood growth and development should consider parents' knowledge and perceptions, as well as the sociocultural contexts in which children and families live.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000517586DOI Listing
November 2021

Childhood overweight and obesity abatement policies in Europe.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 4;22 Suppl 6:e13300. Epub 2021 Nov 4.

World Health Organization (WHO) European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, Division of Country Health Programmes, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Moscow, Russian Federation.

Over the past two decades, a concerted effort to combat the rising tide of childhood overweight and obesity has taken shape. The World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO) provides recommendations for six priority areas of action, including the promotion of healthy food consumption, promotion of physical activity, preconception and pregnancy care, early childhood diet and physical activity, healthy nutrition and physical activity for school-aged children, and community-based weight management. This paper provides a snapshot of policies and measures aligned to these areas of action within the WHO European Region in order to encourage other countries to make similar efforts. Examples are drawn from Portugal (sugar-sweetened beverage tax, integrated nutrition strategy), the United Kingdom (soft drink levy, active commuting programs, urban design principles), Lithuania (prohibition of energy drinks), Norway (industry and government partnerships to promote healthier foods, nutrition education curriculum for schools), Hungary (tax subsidies to promote healthy diets), the European Union (cross-border marketing regulations, preconception and pregnancy care), Slovenia (food marketing restrictions), Spain (marketing restrictions within educational settings), Poland (investing in sports infrastructure), Russia (increasing sports participation), Estonia (redevelopment of the physical education curriculum), Netherlands (preconception and pregnancy care), Croatia (conditions to support breastfeeding), Austria (perinatal and early childhood nutrition), Czechia (life-course strategy), San Marino (nutrition and physical activity for school-aged children), Ukraine (potable water for schools), Ireland and Italy (community-based weight management approaches). Our findings suggest that a large disparity exists among the type and breadth of policies adopted by Member States, with a mix of single-issue policy responses and more cohesive strategies. The role of data, implementation research, and ongoing surveillance of country-level progress related to childhood overweight and obesity policies are discussed as an essential part of the iterative process of policy development. Additional work to systematically gather context-specific information on policy development, implementation, and reach according to ECHO's six areas of action by WHO European Region countries will inform future policy paradigms within the region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13300DOI Listing
November 2021

Methodology and implementation of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI).

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 4;22 Suppl 6:e13215. Epub 2021 Nov 4.

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Sciensano, Brussels, Belgium.

Establishment of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) has resulted in a surveillance system which provides regular, reliable, timely, and accurate data on children's weight status-through standardized measurement of bodyweight and height-in the WHO European Region. Additional data on dietary intake, physical activity, sedentary behavior, family background, and school environments are collected in several countries. In total, 45 countries in the European Region have participated in COSI. The first five data collection rounds, between 2007 and 2021, yielded measured anthropometric data on over 1.3 million children. In COSI, data are collected according to a common protocol, using standardized instruments and procedures. The systematic collection and analysis of these data enables intercountry comparisons and reveals differences in the prevalence of childhood thinness, overweight, normal weight, and obesity between and within populations. Furthermore, it facilitates investigation of the relationship between overweight, obesity, and potential risk or protective factors and improves the understanding of the development of overweight and obesity in European primary-school children in order to support appropriate and effective policy responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13215DOI Listing
November 2021

Breakfast Cereals Intended for Children: Opportunities for Reformulation and Potential Impact on Nutrient Intake.

Foods 2021 Jul 30;10(8). Epub 2021 Jul 30.

Food and Nutrition Department, National Health Institute Dr Ricardo Jorge, Av Padre Cruz, 1649-016 Lisboa, Portugal.

Ready-to-eat cereals (RTECs) have become a popular breakfast option claiming to provide important nutrients to children's diets, despite being a source of excess sugar and, therefore, a health concern. Thus, food reformulation constitutes an important public health strategy that could benefit from inputs provided by nutrient profiling. This study aimed to assess the adequacy of the RTECs for children available in Portuguese supermarkets, applying three nutrient profile models (NPMs)-the nutrient profile model of the World Health Organization's Regional Office for Europe (WHO-EURO), the profile of the private-sector EU Pledge (EU-Pledge), and the national model developed by the Directorate-General of Health (NPM-PT)-in order to explore the potential for reformulation of the RTECs identified as not adequate and evaluate the impact of RTECs' reformulation on the nutritional quality of Portuguese children's diets. In total, 78 RTECs intended for children were assessed and two scenarios-current (not considering reformulation) and alternative (considering reformulation to accomplish the nutrient profile requirements)-were considered to assess the impact of reformulation on nutritional quality. Across all RTECs, only 5.1% could be promoted to children according to the considered NPMs. The most common nutrients requiring reformulation were sugar, saturated fatty acids (SFA), salt, and dietary fiber. The scenarios of reformulation considered could reduce the RTECs average content of total sugars, SFA, and salt by 43%, 8.7%, and 1.1%, respectively, and dietary fiber intake could be increased by 34%. Thus, these results support policies to implement reformulation strategies for developing healthier food products to be promoted to children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/foods10081772DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8394760PMC
July 2021

Mobilizing governments and society to combat obesity: Reflections on how data from the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative are helping to drive policy progress.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 10;22 Suppl 6:e13217. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

World Health Organization (WHO) European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, Division of Country Health Programmes, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Moscow, Russian Federation.

To meet the need for regular and reliable data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children in Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) was established in 2007. The resulting robust surveillance system has improved understanding of the public health challenge of childhood overweight and obesity in the WHO European Region. For the past decade, data from COSI have helped to inform and drive policy action on nutrition and physical activity in the region. This paper describes illustrative examples of how COSI data have fed into national and international policy, but the real scope of COSI's impact is likely to be much broader. In some countries, there are signs that policy responses to COSI data have helped halt the rise in childhood obesity. As the countries of the WHO European Region commit to pursuing United Action for Better Health in Europe in WHO's new European Programme of Work, COSI provides an excellent example of such united action in practice. Further collaborative action will be key to tackling this major public health challenge which affects children throughout the region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13217DOI Listing
November 2021

Childhood overweight and obesity in Europe: Changes from 2007 to 2017.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 10;22 Suppl 6:e13226. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

World Health Organization (WHO) European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, Division of Country Health Programmes, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Moscow, Russian Federation.

The Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) routinely measures height and weight of primary school children aged 6-9 years and calculates overweight and obesity prevalence within the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region using a standard methodology. This study examines the trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity from the first round of COSI carried out in 2007/2008 to the latest of 2015/2017 in 11 European countries in which data were collected for at least three rounds. In total 303,155 children were measured. In general, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among boys and girls decreased in countries with high prevalence (Southern Europe) and remained stable or slightly increased in Northern European and Eastern European countries included in the analysis. Among boys, the highest decrease in overweight (including obesity) was observed in Portugal (from 40.5% in 2007/2008 to 28.4 in 2015/2017) and in Greece for obesity (from 30.5% in 2009/2010 to 21.7% in 2015/2017). Lithuania recorded the strongest increase in the proportion of boys with overweight (from 24.8% to 28.5%) and obesity (from 9.4% to 12.2%). The trends were similar for boys and girls in most countries. Several countries in Europe have successfully implemented policies and interventions to counteract the increase of overweight and obesity, but there is still much to be done.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13226DOI Listing
November 2021

New bioelectrical impedance analysis equations for children and adolescents based on the deuterium dilution technique.

Clin Nutr ESPEN 2021 08 24;44:402-409. Epub 2021 May 24.

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background And Aims: Body composition in childhood is not only a marker of the prevalence of obesity, but it can also be used to assess associated metabolic complications. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) shows promise as an easy to use, rapid, and non-invasive tool to evaluate body composition. The objectives of this study were to: (a) develop BIA prediction equations to estimate total body water (TBW) and fat-free mass (FFM) in European children and early adolescents and to validate the analysis with the deuterium dilution as the reference technique and (b) compare our results with previously published paediatric BIA equations.

Methods: The cohort included 266 healthy children and adolescents between 7 and 14 years of age, 46% girls, in five European countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Portugal. TBW and FFM were the target variables in the developed regression models. For model development, the dataset was randomly split into training and test sets, in 70:30 ratio, respectively. Model tuning was performed with 10-fold cross-validation that confirmed the unbiased estimate of its performance. The final regression models were retrained on the whole dataset.

Results: Cross-validated regression models were developed using resistance index, weight, and sex as the optimal predictors. The new prediction equations explained 87% variability in both TBW and FFM. Limits of agreement between BIA and reference values, were within ±17% of the mean, (-3.4, 3.7) and (-4.5, 4.8) kg for TBW and FFM, respectively. BIA FFM and TBW estimates were within one standard deviation for approximately 83% of the children. BIA prediction equations underestimated TBW and FFM by 0.2 kg and 0.1 kg respectively with no proportional bias and comparable accuracy among different BMI-for-age subgroups. Comparison with predictive equations from published studies revealed varying discrepancy rates with the deuterium dilution measurements, with only two being equivalent to the equations developed in this study.

Conclusions: The small difference between deuterium dilution and BIA measurements validated by Bland-Altman analysis, supports the application of BIA for epidemiological studies in European children using the developed equations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnesp.2021.05.001DOI Listing
August 2021

Thinness, overweight, and obesity in 6- to 9-year-old children from 36 countries: The World Health Organization European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative-COSI 2015-2017.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 7;22 Suppl 6:e13214. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Center for Health Ecology, Institute of Public Health, Podgorica, Montenegro.

In 2015-2017, the fourth round of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) was conducted in 36 countries. National representative samples of children aged 6-9 (203,323) were measured by trained staff, with similar equipment and using a standardized protocol. This paper assesses the children's body weight status and compares the burden of childhood overweight, obesity, and thinness in Northern, Eastern, and Southern Europe and Central Asia. The results show great geographic variability in height, weight, and body mass index. On average, the children of Northern Europe were the tallest, those of Southern Europe the heaviest, and the children living in Central Asia the lightest and the shortest. Overall, 28.7% of boys and 26.5% of girls were overweight (including obesity) and 2.5% and 1.9%, respectively, were thin according to the WHO definitions. The prevalence of obesity varied from 1.8% of boys and 1.1% of girls in Tajikistan to 21.5% and 19.2%, respectively, in Cyprus, and tended to be higher for boys than for girls. Levels of thinness, stunting, and underweight were relatively low, except in Eastern Europe (for thinness) and in Central Asia. Despite the efforts to halt it, unhealthy weight status is still an important problem in the WHO European Region.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13214DOI Listing
November 2021

Socioeconomic disparities in physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep patterns among 6- to 9-year-old children from 24 countries in the WHO European region.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 7;22 Suppl 6:e13209. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-Course, WHO Country Office for Tajikistan, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep are important predictors of children's health. This paper aimed to investigate socioeconomic disparities in physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep across the WHO European region. This cross-sectional study used data on 124,700 children aged 6 to 9 years from 24 countries participating in the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative between 2015 and 2017. Socioeconomic status (SES) was measured through parental education, parental employment status, and family perceived wealth. Overall, results showed different patterns in socioeconomic disparities in children's movement behaviors across countries. In general, high SES children were more likely to use motorized transportation. Low SES children were less likely to participate in sports clubs and more likely to have more than 2 h/day of screen time. Children with low parental education had a 2.24 [95% CI 1.94-2.58] times higher risk of practising sports for less than 2 h/week. In the pooled analysis, SES was not significantly related to active play. The relationship between SES and sleep varied by the SES indicator used. Importantly, results showed that low SES is not always associated with a higher prevalence of "less healthy" behaviors. There is a great diversity in SES patterns across countries which supports the need for country-specific, targeted public health interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13209DOI Listing
November 2021

Urban and rural differences in frequency of fruit, vegetable, and soft drink consumption among 6-9-year-old children from 19 countries from the WHO European region.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 7;22 Suppl 6:e13207. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Obesity Management Centre, Institute of Endocrinology, Prague, Czech Republic.

In order to address the paucity of evidence on the association between childhood eating habits and urbanization, this cross-sectional study describes urban-rural differences in frequency of fruit, vegetable, and soft drink consumption in 123,100 children aged 6-9 years from 19 countries participating in the fourth round (2015-2017) of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). Children's parents/caregivers completed food-frequency questionnaires. A multivariate multilevel logistic regression analysis was performed and revealed wide variability among countries and within macroregions for all indicators. The percentage of children attending rural schools ranged from 3% in Turkey to 70% in Turkmenistan. The prevalence of less healthy eating habits was high, with between 30-80% and 30-90% children not eating fruit or vegetables daily, respectively, and up to 45% consuming soft drinks on >3 days a week. For less than one third of the countries, children attending rural schools had higher odds (OR-range: 1.1-2.1) for not eating fruit or vegetables daily or consuming soft drinks >3 days a week compared to children attending urban schools. For the remainder of the countries no significant associations were observed. Both population-based interventions and policy strategies are necessary to improve access to healthy foods and increase healthy eating behaviors among children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13207DOI Listing
November 2021

Socioeconomic differences in food habits among 6- to 9-year-old children from 23 countries-WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI 2015/2017).

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 7;22 Suppl 6:e13211. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

World Health Organization (WHO) European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, Division of Country Health Programmes, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Moscow, Russian Federation.

Background: Socioeconomic differences in children's food habits are a key public health concern. In order to inform policy makers, cross-country surveillance studies of dietary patterns across socioeconomic groups are required. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between socioeconomic status (SES) and children's food habits.

Methods: The study was based on nationally representative data from children aged 6-9 years (n = 129,164) in 23 countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region. Multivariate multilevel analyses were used to explore associations between children's food habits (consumption of fruit, vegetables, and sugar-containing soft drinks) and parental education, perceived family wealth and parental employment status.

Results: Overall, the present study suggests that unhealthy food habits are associated with lower SES, particularly as assessed by parental education and family perceived wealth, but not parental employment status. We found cross-national and regional variation in associations between SES and food habits and differences in the extent to which the respective indicators of SES were related to children's diet.

Conclusion: Socioeconomic differences in children's food habits exist in the majority of European and Asian countries examined in this study. The results are of relevance when addressing strategies, policy actions, and interventions targeting social inequalities in children's diets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13211DOI Listing
November 2021

Socioeconomic inequalities in overweight and obesity among 6- to 9-year-old children in 24 countries from the World Health Organization European region.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 28;22 Suppl 6:e13213. Epub 2021 Jun 28.

Center for Health Ecology, Institute of Public Health, Podgorica, Montenegro.

Childhood overweight and obesity have significant short- and long-term negative impacts on children's health and well-being. These challenges are unequally distributed according to socioeconomic status (SES); however, previous studies have often lacked standardized and objectively measured data across national contexts to assess these differences. This study provides a cross-sectional picture of the association between SES and childhood overweight and obesity, based on data from 123,487 children aged 6-9 years in 24 countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region. Overall, associations were found between overweight/obesity and the three SES indicators used (parental education, parental employment status, and family-perceived wealth). Our results showed an inverse relationship between the prevalence of childhood overweight/obesity and parental education in high-income countries, whereas the opposite relationship was observed in most of the middle-income countries. The same applied to family-perceived wealth, although parental employment status appeared to be less associated with overweight and obesity or not associated at all. This paper highlights the need for close attention to context when designing interventions, as the association between SES and childhood overweight and obesity varies by country economic development. Population-based interventions have an important role to play, but policies that target specific SES groups are also needed to address inequalities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13213DOI Listing
November 2021

Identifying the views of adolescents in five European countries on the drivers of obesity using group model building.

Eur J Public Health 2021 04;31(2):391-396

Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

Background: To make effective progress towards a global reduction in obesity prevalence, there needs to be a focus on broader structural factors, beyond individual-level drivers of diet and physical activity. This article describes the use of a systems framework to develop obesity prevention policies with adolescents. The aim of this research was to use the group model building (GMB) method to identify young people's perceptions of the drivers of adolescent obesity in five European countries, as part of the EU-funded Co-Create project.

Methods: We used GMB with four groups of 16-18-year-olds in schools in each of the five European countries (The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal and the UK) to create causal loop diagrams (CLDs) representing their perceptions of the drivers of adolescent obesity. The maps were then merged into one, using a new protocol.

Results: Two hundred and fifty-seven participants, aged 16-18 years, engaged in 20 separate system mapping groups, each of which generated 1 CLD. The findings were largely congruent between the countries. Three feedback loops in the merged diagram particularly stand out: commercial drivers of unhealthy diets; mental health and unhealthy diets; social media use, body image and motivation to exercise.

Conclusions: GMB provides a novel way of eliciting from young people the system-based drivers of obesity that are relevant to them. Mental health issues, social media use and commercial practices were considered by the young people to be key drivers of adolescent obesity, subjects that have thus far had little or no coverage in research and policy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckaa251DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8071593PMC
April 2021

Physical Activity, Screen Time, and Sleep Duration of Children Aged 6-9 Years in 25 Countries: An Analysis within the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) 2015-2017.

Obes Facts 2021 22;14(1):32-44. Epub 2020 Dec 22.

National Institute of Health Dr Ricardo Jorge I.P., Lisbon, Portugal.

Background: Children are becoming less physically active as opportunities for safe active play, recreational activities, and active transport decrease. At the same time, sedentary screen-based activities both during school and leisure time are increasing.

Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate physical activity (PA), screen time, and sleep duration of girls and boys aged 6-9 years in Europe using data from the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI).

Method: The fourth COSI data collection round was conducted in 2015-2017, using a standardized protocol that included a family form completed by parents with specific questions about their children's PA, screen time, and sleep duration.

Results: Nationally representative data from 25 countries was included and information on the PA behaviour, screen time, and sleep duration of 150,651 children was analysed. Pooled analysis showed that: 79.4% were actively playing for >1 h each day, 53.9% were not members of a sport or dancing club, 50.0% walked or cycled to school each day, 60.2% engaged in screen time for <2 h/day, and 84.9% slept for 9-11 h/night. Country-specific analyses of these behaviours showed pronounced differences, with national prevalences in the range of 61.7-98.3% actively playing for >1 h/day, 8.2-85.6% were not members of a sport or dancing club, 17.7-94.0% walked or cycled to school each day, 32.3-80.0% engaged in screen time for <2 h/day, and 50.0-95.8% slept for 9-11 h/night.

Conclusions: The prevalence of engagement in PA and the achievement of healthy screen time and sleep duration are heterogenous across the region. Policymakers and other stakeholders, including school administrators and parents, should increase opportunities for young people to participate in daily PA as well as explore solutions to address excessive screen time and short sleep duration to improve the overall physical and mental health and well-being of children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000511263DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7983588PMC
July 2021

High sugar content of European commercial baby foods and proposed updates to existing recommendations.

Matern Child Nutr 2021 01 30;17(1):e13020. Epub 2020 Aug 30.

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-Course, World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The aim was to determine whether commercial baby foods marketed within Europe (up to 36 months of age) have inappropriate formulation and high sugar content and to provide suggestions to update European regulations and recommendations as part of a nutrient profile model developed for this age group. The latter was produced following recommended World Health Organization (WHO) steps, including undertaking a rapid literature review. Packaging information from countries across the WHO European region was used to determine mean energy from total sugar by food category. The percentage of products containing added sugar and the percentage of savoury meal-type products containing pureed fruit were also calculated. A total of 2,634 baby foods from 10 countries were summarised: 768 sold in the United Kingdom, over 200 each from Denmark (319), Spain (241), Italy (430) and Malta (243) and between 99-200 from Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Estonia and Slovenia. On average, approximately a third of energy in baby foods in these European countries came from total sugar, and for most food categories, energy from sugar was higher than 10%. Use of added sugars was widespread across product categories, with concentrated fruit juice most commonly used. Savoury meal-type purees did not contain added sugars except in United Kingdom and Malta; however, fruit as an ingredient was found in 7% of savoury meals, most frequently seen in UK products. Clear proposals for reducing the high sugar content seen in commercial baby foods were produced. These suggestions, relating to both content and labelling, should be used to update regulations and promote product reformulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mcn.13020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7729710PMC
January 2021

A Snapshot of European Children's Eating Habits: Results from the Fourth Round of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI).

Nutrients 2020 Aug 17;12(8). Epub 2020 Aug 17.

Department for Organization of Health Services to Children, Mothers, Adolescents and Family Planning, Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Population, 734025 Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Consuming a healthy diet in childhood helps to protect against malnutrition and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). This cross-sectional study described the diets of 132,489 children aged six to nine years from 23 countries participating in round four (2015-2017) of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). Children's parents or caregivers were asked to complete a questionnaire that contained indicators of energy-balance-related behaviors (including diet). For each country, we calculated the percentage of children who consumed breakfast, fruit, vegetables, sweet snacks or soft drinks "every day", "most days (four to six days per week)", "some days (one to three days per week)", or "never or less than once a week". We reported these results stratified by country, sex, and region. On a daily basis, most children (78.5%) consumed breakfast, fewer than half (42.5%) consumed fruit, fewer than a quarter (22.6%) consumed fresh vegetables, and around one in ten consumed sweet snacks or soft drinks (10.3% and 9.4%, respectively); however, there were large between-country differences. This paper highlights an urgent need to create healthier food and drink environments, reinforce health systems to promote healthy diets, and continue to support child nutrition and obesity surveillance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12082481DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468747PMC
August 2020

Salt Reduction Strategies in Portuguese School Meals, from Pre-School to Secondary Education-The Eat Mediterranean Program.

Nutrients 2020 Jul 24;12(8). Epub 2020 Jul 24.

WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, 125009 Moscow, Russia.

High sodium (salt) consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing non-communicable diseases. However, in most European countries, Portugal included, sodium intake is still high. This study aimed to assess the sodium content of school meals before and after the Eat Mediterranean (EM) intervention-a community-based program to identify and correct nutritional deviations through the implementation of new school menus and through schools' food handlers training. EM (2015-2017) was developed in 25 schools (pre to secondary education) of two Portuguese Municipalities, reaching students aged 3-21 years old. Samples of the complete meals (soup + main course + bread) from all schools were collected, and nutritional quality and laboratory analysis were performed to determine their nutritional composition, including sodium content. Overall, there was a significant decrease (-23%) in the mean sodium content of the complete school meals, which was mainly achieved by the significant reduction of 34% of sodium content per serving portion of soup. In conclusion, EM had a positive effect on the improvement of the school meals' sodium content, among the participant schools. Furthermore, school setting might be ideal for nutrition literacy interventions among children, for flavors shaping, and for educating towards less salty food acceptance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12082213DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7469016PMC
July 2020

Projected impact of the Portuguese sugar-sweetened beverage tax on obesity incidence across different age groups: A modelling study.

PLoS Med 2020 03 12;17(3):e1003036. Epub 2020 Mar 12.

Department of Public Health and Forensic Sciences and Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.

Background: Excessive consumption of sugar has a well-established link with obesity. Preliminary results show that a tax levied on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) by the Portuguese government in 2017 led to a drop in sales and reformulation of these products. This study models the impact the market changes triggered by the tax levied on SSBs had on obesity incidence across various age groups in Portugal.

Methods And Findings: We performed a national market analysis and population-wide modelling study using market data for the years 2014-2018 from the Portuguese Association of Non-Alcoholic Drinks (GlobalData and Nielsen Consumer Panel), dietary data from a national survey (IAN-AF 2015-2016), and obesity incidence data from several cohort studies. Dietary energy density from SSBs was calculated by dividing the energy content (kcal/gram) of all SSBs by the total food consumption (in grams). We used the potential impact fraction (PIF) equation to model the projected impact of the tax-triggered change in sugar consumption on obesity incidence, through both volume reduction and reformulation. Results showed a reduction of 6.6 million litres of SSBs sold per year. Product reformulation led to a decrease in the average energy density of SSBs by 3.1 kcal/100 ml. This is estimated to have prevented around 40-78 cases of obesity per year between 2016 and 2018, with the biggest projected impact observed in adolescents 10 to <18 years old. The model shows that the implementation of this tax allowed for a 4 to 8 times larger projected impact against obesity than would be achieved though reformulation alone. The main limitation of this study is that the model we used includes data from various sources, which can result in biases-despite our efforts to mitigate them-related to the methodological differences between these sources.

Conclusions: The tax triggered both a reduction in demand and product reformulation. These, together, can reduce obesity levels among frequent consumers of SSBs. Such taxation is an effective population-wide intervention. Reformulation alone, without the decrease in sales, would have had a far smaller effect on obesity incidence in the Portuguese population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003036DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067376PMC
March 2020

Prevalence of Severe Obesity among Primary School Children in 21 European Countries.

Obes Facts 2019 26;12(2):244-258. Epub 2019 Apr 26.

Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) was established more than 10 years ago to estimate prevalence and monitor changes in overweight and obesity in children aged 6-9 years. Since then, there have been five rounds of data collection in more than 40 countries involving more than half a million children. To date, no comparative studies with data on severe childhood obesity from European countries have been published.

Objectives: The aim of this work was to present the prevalence of severe obesity in school-aged children from 21 countries participating in COSI.

Method: The data are from cross-sectional studies in 21 European WHO member states that took part in the first three COSI rounds of data collection (2007/2008, 2009/2010, 2012/2013). School-aged children were measured using standardized instruments and methodology. Children were classified as severely obese using the definitions provided by WHO and the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF). Analyses overtime, by child's age and mother's educational level, were performed in a select group of countries.

Results: A total of 636,933 children were included in the analysis (323,648 boys and 313,285 girls). The prevalence of severe obesity varied greatly among countries, with higher values in Southern Europe. According to the WHO definition, severe obesity ranged from 1.0% in Swedish and Moldovan children (95% CI 0.7-1.3 and 0.7-1.5, respectively) to 5.5% (95% CI 4.9-6.1) in Maltese children. The prevalence was generally higher among boys compared to girls. The IOTF cut-offs lead to lower estimates, but confirm the differences among countries, and were more similar for both boys and girls. In many countries 1 in 4 obese children were severely obese. Applying the estimates of prevalence based on the WHO definition to the whole population of children aged 6-9 years in each country, around 398,000 children would be expected to be severely obese in the 21 European countries. The trend between 2007 and 2013 and the analysis by child's age did not show a clear pattern. Severe obesity was more common among children whose mother's educational level was lower.

Conclusions: Severe obesity is a serious public health issue which affects a large number of children in Europe. Because of the impact on educational, health, social care, and economic systems, obesity needs to be addressed via a range of approaches from early prevention of overweight and obesity to treatment of those who need it.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000500436DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6547273PMC
February 2020

Association between Characteristics at Birth, Breastfeeding and Obesity in 22 Countries: The WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative - COSI 2015/2017.

Obes Facts 2019 26;12(2):226-243. Epub 2019 Apr 26.

NCD Office, WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, Moscow, Russian Federation.

Background: In Europe, although the prevalence of childhood obesity seems to be plateauing in some countries, progress on tackling this important public health issue remains slow and inconsistent. Breastfeeding has been described as a protective factor, and the more exclusively and the longer children are breastfed, the greater their protection from obesity. Birth weight has been shown to have a positive association with later risk for obesity.

Objectives: It was the aim of this paper to investigate the association of early-life factors, namely breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and birth weight, with obesity among children.

Method: Data from 22 participating countries in the WHO European COSI study (round 4: 2015/2017) were collected using cross-sectional, nationally representative samples of 6- to 9-year-olds (n = 100,583). The children's standardized weight and height measurements followed a common WHO protocol. Information on the children's birth weight and breastfeeding practice and duration was collected through a family record form. A multivariate multilevel logistic regression analysis regarding breastfeeding practice (both general and exclusive) and characteristics at birth was performed.

Results: The highest prevalence rates of obesity were observed in Spain (17.7%), Malta (17.2%) and Italy (16.8%). A wide between-country disparity in breastfeeding prevalence was found. Tajikistan had the highest percentage of children that were breastfed for ≥6 months (94.4%) and exclusively breastfed for ≥6 months (73.3%). In France, Ireland and Malta, only around 1 in 4 children was breastfed for ≥6 months. Italy and Malta showed the highest prevalence of obesity among children who have never been breastfed (21.2%), followed by Spain (21.0%). The pooled analysis showed that, compared to children who were breastfed for at least 6 months, the odds of being obese were higher among children never breastfed or breastfed for a shorter period, both in case of general (adjusted odds ratio [adjOR] [95% CI] 1.22 [1.16-1.28] and 1.12 [1.07-1.16], respectively) and exclusive breastfeeding (adjOR [95% CI] 1.25 [1.17-1.36] and 1.05 [0.99-1.12], respectively). Higher birth weight was associated with a higher risk of being overweight, which was reported in 11 out of the 22 countries. Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Poland and Romania showed that children who were preterm at birth had higher odds of being obese, compared to children who were full-term babies.

Conclusion: The present work confirms the beneficial effect of breastfeeding against obesity, which was highly increased if children had never been breastfed or had been breastfed for a shorter period. Nevertheless, adoption of exclusive breastfeeding is below global recommendations and far from the target endorsed by the WHO Member States at the World Health Assembly Global Targets for Nutrition of increasing the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50% by 2025.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000500425DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6547266PMC
February 2020

Nutri-Score: A Public Health Tool to Improve Eating Habits in Portugal.

Acta Med Port 2019 Mar 29;32(3):175-178. Epub 2019 Mar 29.

Faculty of Medicine. Porto University. Porto. Serviço de Imuno-hemoterapia. Centro Hospitalar Universitário São João. Porto. Portugal.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.20344/amp.11627DOI Listing
March 2019

Clustering of Multiple Energy Balance-Related Behaviors in School Children and its Association with Overweight and Obesity-WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI 2015⁻2017).

Nutrients 2019 Feb 27;11(3). Epub 2019 Feb 27.

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-course, WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, 125009 Moscow, Russia.

It is unclear how dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviors co-occur in school-aged children. We investigated the clustering of energy balance-related behaviors and whether the identified clusters were associated with weight status. Participants were 6- to 9-year-old children ( = 63,215, 49.9% girls) from 19 countries participating in the fourth round (2015/2017) of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative. Energy balance-related behaviors were parentally reported. Weight and height were objectively measured. We performed cluster analysis separately per group of countries (North Europe, East Europe, South Europe/Mediterranean countries and West-Central Asia). Seven clusters were identified in each group. Healthier clusters were common across groups. The pattern of distribution of healthy and unhealthy behaviors within each cluster was group specific. Associations between the clustering of energy balance-related behaviors and weight status varied per group. In South Europe/Mediterranean countries and East Europe, all or most of the cluster solutions were associated with higher risk of overweight/obesity when compared with the cluster 'Physically active and healthy diet'. Few or no associations were observed in North Europe and West-Central Asia, respectively. These findings support the hypothesis that unfavorable weight status is associated with a particular combination of energy balance-related behavior patterns, but only in some groups of countries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu11030511DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6471416PMC
February 2019

Improving breakfast patterns of portuguese children-an evaluation of ready-to-eat cereals according to the European nutrient profile model.

Eur J Clin Nutr 2019 03 4;73(3):465-473. Epub 2018 Jul 4.

Regional Health Administration of Lisbon and Tagus Valley (ARSLVT), Av. Estados Unidos da América, No 77, Piso 8, 1749-096, Lisboa, Portugal.

Background/objectives: Ready-to-eat cereal (RTEC) breakfasts have been increasing in Portugal, among children. Eat Mediterranean (EM), a Portuguese comprehensive community-based intervention, proposed to improve breakfast patterns of children and adolescents and to evaluate the healthiness of RTEC according to WHO/Europe nutrient profile model (Euro-NP).

Subjects/methods: EM Program was developed during two scholar years (15/16 and 16/17) toward 2333 students (pre to secondary education). Data on breakfast was provided using a family record form. The intervention consisted of 257 educational sessions addressing the principles of Mediterranean Diet, and promoting a "healthy breakfast at home". To check for compliance with Euro-NP, RTEC package food labels' nutritional composition was used.

Results: After intervention 92.9% of children/adolescents had breakfast daily with no report of breakfast skippers. RTECs were one of the most frequent (66.5%) breakfasts. Statistically significant improvements were showed for: daily qualitative and complete breakfast frequency (5.6%) and fruit (11.2%). Consumption of RTEC decreased 28%. According to Euro-NP, 84.6% of the RTECs were non-compliant, regarding sugar content. Children's RTECs presented 5% more of energy and 26% more sugar than the "non-children's" RTECs.

Conclusion: EM strategy showed to be a successful program to improve patterns and quality of breakfast of the children and adolescents, reinforcing the importance of school-based nutritional programs in changing lifestyles. Nutrient profiling can be a useful tool to provide a selection of foods to be part of a healthy diet and can be used by policy-makers to design policies to identify the foods to which marketing restrictions to children, will apply.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41430-018-0235-6DOI Listing
March 2019

Vaginismus in Assisted Reproductive Technology Centers: an invisible population in need of care.

JBRA Assist Reprod 2018 Mar 1;22(1):35-41. Epub 2018 Mar 1.

Fertipraxis Reprodução Humana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Objective: Genital and sexual pain is still neglected. Consequences may be dramatic, since infertility and sexual dysfunction may be reciprocally linked. This is the first study to focus on the identification of cases of vaginismus in the ART scenario and on the introduction of intra-cycle interventions as part of a comprehensive, integrated and patient-centered perspective.

Methods: This observational prospective study looked into 425 IVF/ICSI cycles and 226 frozen embryo transfers carried out from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016, and found seven cases of vaginismus. Within a six-month period, a questionnaire placed on SurveyMonkey was sent twice to 228 ART centers in Latin America. The purpose was to learn how often cases of vaginismus were found in ART centers and the perceptions around the presence of this condition.

Results: The few centers that took the time to answer the questionnaire (24/10.5%) stated that the number of cases in which they had trouble performing control ultrasound examination or needed to perform transfers with patients under sedation was not significant. Although 81% agreed that the incidence of these conditions is low, no references were made to cases of vaginismus, dyspareunia or sexual dysfunction. Our multidisciplinary team found seven cases of vaginismus, involving women with higher education degrees with a mean age of 37.8 years and married for a mean of four years. Although two reported they were able to tolerate intercourse, all reported undergoing treatments such as using vaginal dilators (3), psychotherapy (4) and psychiatric care (1). The care provided by the staff was designed to mitigate patient suffering.

Conclusion: Gentle care and sensitive listening should be integral components in the work of multidisciplinary teams to identify women with vaginismus and offer couples better quality treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5935/1518-0557.20180013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5844657PMC
March 2018

WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative: health-risk behaviours on nutrition and physical activity in 6-9-year-old schoolchildren.

Public Health Nutr 2015 Dec 1;18(17):3108-24. Epub 2015 Jul 1.

1Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-Course,WHO Regional Office for Europe,UN City,Marmorvej 51,DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø,Denmark.

Objective: To assess to what extent eight behavioural health risks related to breakfast and food consumption and five behavioural health risks related to physical activity, screen time and sleep duration are present among schoolchildren, and to examine whether health-risk behaviours are associated with obesity.

Design: Cross-sectional design as part of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (school year 2007/2008). Children's behavioural data were reported by their parents and children's weight and height measured by trained fieldworkers. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were performed.

Setting: Primary schools in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Portugal and Sweden; paediatric clinics in the Czech Republic.

Subjects: Nationally representative samples of 6-9-year-olds (n 15 643).

Results: All thirteen risk behaviours differed statistically significantly across countries. Highest prevalence estimates of risk behaviours were observed in Bulgaria and lowest in Sweden. Not having breakfast daily and spending screen time ≥2 h/d were clearly positively associated with obesity. The same was true for eating 'foods like pizza, French fries, hamburgers, sausages or meat pies' >3 d/week and playing outside <1 h/d. Surprisingly, other individual unhealthy eating or less favourable physical activity behaviours showed either no or significant negative associations with obesity. A combination of multiple less favourable physical activity behaviours showed positive associations with obesity, whereas multiple unhealthy eating behaviours combined did not lead to higher odds of obesity.

Conclusions: Despite a categorization based on international health recommendations, individual associations of the thirteen health-risk behaviours with obesity were not consistent, whereas presence of multiple physical activity-related risk behaviours was clearly associated with higher odds of obesity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980015001937DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642225PMC
December 2015

WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative: associations between sleep duration, screen time and food consumption frequencies.

BMC Public Health 2015 Apr 30;15:442. Epub 2015 Apr 30.

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-Course, WHO Regional Office for Europe, UN City, Marmorvej 51, DK-2100, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.

Background: Both sleep duration and screen time have been suggested to affect children's diet, although in different directions and presumably through different pathways. The present cross-sectional study aimed to simultaneously investigate the associations between sleep duration, screen time and food consumption frequencies in children.

Methods: The analysis was based on 10 453 children aged 6-9 years from five European countries that participated in the World Health Organization European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative. Logistic multilevel models were used to assess associations of parent-reported screen time as well as sleep duration (exposure variables) with consumption frequencies of 16 food items (outcome variables). All models were adjusted for age, sex, outdoor play time, maximum educational level of parents and sleep duration or screen time, depending on the exposure under investigation.

Results: One additional hour of screen time was associated with increased consumption frequencies of 'soft drinks containing sugar' (1.28 [1.19;1.39]; odds ratio and 99% confidence interval), 'diet/light soft drinks' (1.21 [1.14;1.29]), 'flavoured milk' (1.18 [1.08;1.28]), 'candy bars or chocolate' (1.31 [1.22;1.40]), 'biscuits, cakes, doughnuts or pies' (1.22 [1.14;1.30]), 'potato chips (crisps), corn chips, popcorn or peanuts' (1.32 [1.20;1.45]), 'pizza, French fries (chips), hamburgers'(1.30 [1.18;1.43]) and with a reduced consumption frequency of 'vegetables (excluding potatoes)' (0.89 [0.83;0.95]) and 'fresh fruits' (0.91 [0.86;0.97]). Conversely, one additional hour of sleep duration was found to be associated with increased consumption frequencies of 'fresh fruits' (1.11 [1.04;1.18]) and 'vegetables (excluding potatoes)' (1.14 [1.07;1.23]).

Conclusion: The results suggest a potential relation between high screen time exposure and increased consumption frequencies of foods high in fat, free sugar or salt whereas long sleep duration may favourably be related to children's food choices. Both screen time and sleep duration are modifiable behaviours that may be tackled in childhood obesity prevention efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-1793-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440513PMC
April 2015

WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative: School nutrition environment and body mass index in primary schools.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2014 Oct 30;11(11):11261-85. Epub 2014 Oct 30.

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Life-Course, WHO Regional Office for Europe, UN City, Marmorvej 51, DK-2100 Copenhagen ø, Denmark.

Background: Schools are important settings for the promotion of a healthy diet and sufficient physical activity and thus overweight prevention.

Objective: To assess differences in school nutrition environment and body mass index (BMI) in primary schools between and within 12 European countries.

Methods: Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) were used (1831 and 2045 schools in 2007/2008 and 2009/2010, respectively). School personnel provided information on 18 school environmental characteristics on nutrition and physical activity. A school nutrition environment score was calculated using five nutrition-related characteristics whereby higher scores correspond to higher support for a healthy school nutrition environment. Trained field workers measured children's weight and height; BMI-for-age (BMI/A) Z-scores were computed using the 2007 WHO growth reference and, for each school, the mean of the children's BMI/A Z-scores was calculated.

Results: Large between-country differences were found in the availability of food items on the premises (e.g., fresh fruit could be obtained in 12%-95% of schools) and school nutrition environment scores (range: 0.30-0.93). Low-score countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania) graded less than three characteristics as supportive. High-score (≥0.70) countries were Ireland, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden. The combined absence of cold drinks containing sugar, sweet snacks and salted snacks were more observed in high-score countries than in low-score countries. Largest within-country school nutrition environment scores were found in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania. All country-level BMI/A Z-scores were positive (range: 0.20-1.02), indicating higher BMI values than the 2007 WHO growth reference. With the exception of Norway and Sweden, a country-specific association between the school nutrition environment score and the school BMI/A Z-score was not observed.

Conclusions: Some European countries have implemented more school policies that are supportive to a healthy nutrition environment than others. However, most countries with low school nutrition environment scores also host schools with supportive school environment policies, suggesting that a uniform school policy to tackle the "unhealthy" school nutrition environment has not been implemented at the same level throughout a country and may underline the need for harmonized school policies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph111111261DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245612PMC
October 2014

WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative: body mass index and level of overweight among 6-9-year-old children from school year 2007/2008 to school year 2009/2010.

BMC Public Health 2014 Aug 7;14:806. Epub 2014 Aug 7.

Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Life-course, World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, UN City, Marmorvej 51, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Ø, Denmark.

Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe has established the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) to monitor changes in overweight in primary-school children. The aims of this paper are to present the anthropometric results of COSI Round 2 (2009/2010) and to explore changes in body mass index (BMI) and overweight among children within and across nine countries from school years 2007/2008 to 2009/2010.

Methods: Using cross-sectional nationally representative samples of 6-9-year-olds, BMI, anthropometric Z-scores and overweight prevalence were derived from measured weight and height. Significant changes between rounds were assessed using variance and t-tests analyses.

Results: At Round 2, the prevalence of overweight (including obesity; WHO definitions) ranged from 18% to 57% among boys and from 18% to 50% among girls; 6 - 31% of boys and 5 - 21% of girls were obese. Southern European countries had the highest overweight prevalence. Between rounds, the absolute change in mean BMI (range: from -0.4 to +0.3) and BMI-for-age Z-scores (range: from -0.21 to +0.14) varied statistically significantly across countries. The highest significant decrease in BMI-for-age Z-scores was found in countries with higher absolute BMI values and the highest significant increase in countries with lower BMI values. The highest significant decrease in overweight prevalence was observed in Italy, Portugal and Slovenia and the highest significant increase in Latvia and Norway.

Conclusions: Changes in BMI and prevalence of overweight over a two-year period varied significantly among European countries. It may be that countries with higher prevalence of overweight in COSI Round 1 have implemented interventions to try to remedy this situation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-806DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289284PMC
August 2014

Economics of chronic diseases protocol: cost-effectiveness modelling and the future burden of non-communicable disease in Europe.

BMC Public Health 2014 May 16;14:456. Epub 2014 May 16.

UK Health Forum, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, EC4Y 8JX London, UK.

Background: The majority of chronic disease is caused by risk factors which are mostly preventable. Effective interventions to reduce these risks are known and proven to be applicable to a variety of settings. Chronic disease is generally developed long before the fatal outcome, meaning that a lot of people spend a number of years in poor health. Effective prevention measures can prolong lives of individuals and significantly improve their quality of life. However, the methods to measure cost-effectiveness are a subject to much debate. The Economics of Chronic Diseases project aims to establish the best possible methods of measuring cost-effectiveness as well as develop micro-simulation models apt at projecting future burden of chronic diseases, their costs and potential savings after implementation of cost-effective interventions.

Method: This research project will involve eight European countries: Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom (UK). A literature review will be conducted to identify scientific articles which critically review the methods of cost-effectiveness. Contact will be made health economists to inform and enrich this review. This evidence will be used as a springboard for discussion at a meeting with key European stakeholders and experts with the aim of reaching a consensus on recommendations for cost-effectiveness methodology. Epidemiological data for coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will be collected along with data on time trends in three major risk factors related to these diseases, specifically tobacco consumption, blood pressure and body mass index. Economic and epidemiological micro-simulation models will be developed to asses the future distributions of risks, disease outcomes, healthcare costs and the cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce the burden of chronic diseases in Europe.

Discussion: This work will help to establish the best methods of measuring cost-effectiveness of health interventions as well as test a variety of scenarios to reduce the risk factors associated with selected chronic diseases. The modelling projections could be used to inform decisions and policies that will implement the best course of action to curb the rising incidence of chronic diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-456DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047783PMC
May 2014
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