Publications by authors named "Aušra Petrauskiene"

32 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

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

Waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio in 7-year-old children-WHO Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative.

Obes Rev 2021 Nov 17;22 Suppl 6:e13208. Epub 2021 Aug 17.

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.

Childhood obesity is a serious global health problem. Waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) reflect body fat distribution in children. The objectives of this study were to assess WC and WHtR in 7-year-old children and to determine body mass index (BMI), WC, and WHtR differences in children from 10 selected countries across Europe (Bulgaria, Czechia, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Norway, Spain, and Sweden) participating in the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). The 50th and 90th percentile of WC (according to COSI and "Identification and prevention of Dietary- and lifestyle-induced health EFfects In Children and infantS" (IDEFICS) cutoff values) and WHtR above 0.5 were used as measures of abdominal obesity in a unique sample of 38,975 children aged 7.00-7.99 years. Southern European countries, including Greece and Spain, showed significantly higher BMI, WC, and WHtRin both genders (p < 0.0001) than Eastern and Northern Europe. The highest values for WC were observed in Greece (60.8 ± 7.36 cm boys; 60.3 ± 7.48 cm girls), North Macedonia (60.4 ± 7.91 cm boys; 59.0 ± 8.01 cm girls), and Spain (59.7 ± 6.96 cm boys; 58.9 ± 6.77 cm girls). WC and WHtRin may add an information about the occurrence of central obesity in children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/obr.13208DOI 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

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

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

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

Oral health behaviour, attitude towards, and knowledge of dental caries among mothers of 0- to 3-year-old children living in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Clin Exp Dent Res 2020 04 13;6(2):215-224. Epub 2019 Dec 13.

Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the oral health behaviours of mothers with young children and their attitudes towards dental caries.

Methods: The survey targeted all mothers with children under 3 years attending a primary healthcare centre (Department of Family Medicine at the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences [LSMU] Hospital) in Kaunas, Lithuania. The Bioethics Centre of the LSMU approved the study (No. BEC-OF-14). Of 176 mothers, 123 (69.9%) took part in the 2016-2017 study. The self-administered questionnaire enquired about mothers' attitudes towards oral health and behaviours related to the potential transmission of oral bacteria to their children, dietary habits, tooth brushing, smoking, and background factors. The chi-squared test and univariate/multivariate logistic regression analyses served for the statistical analysis. (p values ≤ .05 indicated statistically significant differences).

Results: Most (76; 68.5%) of the mothers brushed their teeth twice daily, and 97 (87.4%) reported themselves as nonsmokers. We found a statistically significant association between mothers who brushed their own teeth twice daily and those who cleaned their children's teeth likewise (OR = 5.42, 95% CI [1.28-6.63]; p = .005). We observed significant associations among mothers who gave their children sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) daily and the mothers' college or lower education (OR = 6.51, 95% CI [1.59-27.19]; p = .01) and maternal tooth brushing less than twice daily (OR = 3.88, 95% CI [0.99-15.18]; p = .05).

Conclusions: A majority of mothers who took part in this survey did not brush their children's teeth as recommended. Mothers with a lower education and who brushed their teeth less than twice daily offered their children SSBs more frequently.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cre2.272DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7133724PMC
April 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

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

The Associations between Body Mass Index of Seven- and Eight-Year-Old Children, Dietary Behaviour and Nutrition-Related Parenting Practices.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2019 Jan 21;55(1). Epub 2019 Jan 21.

Health Research Institute, Faculty of Public Health, Medical Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Tilžės str. 18, LT⁻47181 Kaunas, Lithuania.

Body mass index (BMI) is one of the key indicators used to measure the growth of children. It could be affected by the children's nutrition, which is essential for the proper development of the child. Nutrition of children could be affected by many environmental factors, for example, the socioeconomic environment of the family. The aim of this study was to identify the associations between the BMI of seven- and eight-year-old children, dietary behaviour and nutrition-related parenting practices. The study was carried out as part of the World Health Organization European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (WHO COSI). Data were collected using two instruments: objective anthropometric measurements and a questionnaire. The target participant group was 3969 Lithuanian first-formers. Factor analysis was used to summarise questions from the family form. Linear regression analysis was used to identify the associations between various factors and the BMI value of the children. The association between two groups of factors was analysed using Spearman correlation. Factors of dietary behaviour like unhealthy food and proteins were significantly positively associated with BMI in children, while consumption of plant-based, dairy and confectionery items was significantly negatively associated with BMI. Factors of nutrition-related parenting practices like control of unhealthy food, food as a reward or punishment, and mealtime were significantly positively associated with BMI, while encouragement, pressure to eat, and liberal attitude were significantly negatively associated with BMI. The strongest associations were between control of unhealthy food and unhealthy food; cost of and preferences for food and plantbased food; variety of food and proteins; variety of food and plantbased food compared to other associations. The dietary behaviour and nutrition-related parenting practices were associated with BMI in children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/medicina55010024DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6359571PMC
January 2019

Associations between built environment and physical activity of 7-8-year-old children. Cross-sectional results from the Lithuanian COSI study.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2016 21;52(6):366-371. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

Department of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Public Health, Academy of Medicine, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania. Electronic address:

Background And Aim: Research shows that regular engagement in physical activity in childhood is associated with multiple physical and psychosocial health benefits. The data on associations between children physical activity level and built environment in Lithuania are limited. The built environment is one of many variables thought to affect children physical activity level. But consequently there is growing interest in how physical environment influences physical activity of school age children. The aim of this paper is to evaluate associations between physical activity of primary school age children and built environment (road safety, travel distance, playgrounds, etc.) in Lithuania.

Materials And Methods: Data were obtained participating in the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). The study protocol was granted ethical approval from Lithuanian Bioethics Committee (No. 6B-10-02). Parents/guardians provided written informed consent. A cross-sectional study was carried out in 2013. A multilevel sampling method was employed for composing a national representative sample. The representing data were collected by means of standardized questionnaires, which were filled out by 3802 parents of the selected first-formers.

Results: The mean age of the first-formers was 7.3 years (SD 0.5). More than half (62.2%) of parents stated that roads to schools were safe; most (78.7%) of adults notified that children had where to play and exercise in their living area. Place of residence of family and recreation areas in living environment were significant predictors of children's daily physical activity and possibility to attend sport or dancing clubs.

Conclusions: Results from the national survey of 7-8-year-old children of Lithuania reveal that urban living area of families, availability of playgrounds and recreational facilities were associated with higher possibilities of children to be sufficiently physically active.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.medici.2016.11.002DOI Listing
December 2017

Prevalence of overweight/obesity in relation to dietary habits and lifestyle among 7-17 years old children and adolescents in Lithuania.

BMC Public Health 2015 Oct 1;15:1001. Epub 2015 Oct 1.

Institute of Endocrinology, Medical Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Eiveniu str. 2, LT-50009, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Background: Until recently increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity among pediatric population in Europe and worldwide contributes to major well-known risks for metabolic consequences in later life. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of overweight/obesity among children and adolescents in Lithuania and assess its association with energy balance related behaviors as well as familial demographic and socioeconomic factors.

Methods: Cross-sectional study included 3990 7-17 years old schoolchildren from 40 schools of Kaunas region, Lithuania. Study participants underwent anthropometric measurements. Body mass index (BMI) was evaluated according to International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) criteria for children and adolescents. Children and adolescents and their parents filled in the questionnaires on parental sociodemographic characteristics, dietary habits, TV watching time, and family socioeconomic status.

Results: The prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity among boys and girls was 6.9 and 11.7 % (P < 0.05), 12.6 and 12.6 % (P > 0.05), and 4.9 and 3.4 % (P < 0.05), respectively. Obesity was significantly more prevalent in the 7-9 years old group (6.7 and 4.8 % in boys and girls, respectively, P < 0.05). Lower meals frequency and breakfast skipping were directly associated with overweight/obesity (P < 0.05); however, physical inactivity was not associated with higher BMI. Children's overweight/obesity was directly associated with lower paternal education and unemployment (OR 1.30, P = 0.013 and OR 1.56, P = 0.003, respectively).

Conclusions: The prevalence of overweight and obesity among 7-17 years old Lithuanian children and adolescents was more prevalent in younger age, still being one of the lowest across the European countries. Meals frequency, breakfast skipping, paternal education and unemployment as well as a family history of arterial hypertension were found to be associated with children's and adolescents' overweight/obesity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-015-2340-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590263PMC
October 2015

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

Family socioeconomic status and nutrition habits of 7-8 year old children: cross-sectional Lithuanian COSI study.

Ital J Pediatr 2015 Apr 23;41:34. Epub 2015 Apr 23.

Institute of Health Research, Academy of Medicine, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Background: Nutritional habits are a useful way to characterize whole diets and they are also known to be influenced by a wide range of social and economic factors. The above factors in each country may have different effect on children's eating habits. In Lithuania the data of children nutrition in association with socio-economic status of family is poor. There are few studies done, where links between nutrition habits of children and socio-economic status of family was evaluated. The aim of this paper is to evaluate association among nutrition habits of first-formers and family socio-economic status in Lithuania.

Methods: Data were obtained participating in the international study, which was performed in all ten districts of Lithuania. A cross-sectional study was carried out in 2010, using the protocol and methodology prepared by the experts from the WHO and countries participating in the Initiative. The data were collected by means of COSI standardized questionnaire, which was filled out by parents of selected first-formers'. In this paper a part of questions regarding children nutrition habits and parents' socio-economic status is presented. Statistical analysis was performed by using SPSS 20.0 software for Windows. Correlation among variables was evaluated by χ (2). Links among nutrition habits of first-formers and family socioeconomic status were determined using binary logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). For all tests p < 0.05 was considered significant.

Results: It was established that the majority (76%) of Lithuanian first-formers eat breakfast every day or 4-6 times a week. Significant differences were found between breakfast consumption and gender - girls eat breakfast less frequently than boys. Odds ratio of children daily breakfast consumption were 1.3 times higher in families where fathers' were older than 30 years comparing with younger fathers. Meanwhile mothers' age had significant influence just on children daily soft drinks with sugar consumption.

Conclusions: Results from the national survey of primary school age children of Lithuania reveals that family socio-economic position plays one of the major role in breakfast, fresh fruit and soft drinks with sugar consumption among younger school age children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13052-015-0139-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410588PMC
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

Factors associated with breastfeeding duration.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2013 ;49(9):415-21

Department of Children Diseases, Medical Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Baltijos 120, 47116 Kaunas, Lithuania.

Background And Objective: The assessment of the factors associated with breastfeeding duration helps in creation of a national policy according to the World Health Organization strategy and recommendations. The objective of the study was to identify the factors associated with breastfeeding duration.

Material And Methods: These analyses are based on a sample of mothers with babies attending one family health center in Kaunas, Lithuania. Completed questionnaires were obtained from 195 mothers (response rate, 97.5%). One year later, the same respondents, who had 1-year-old children, answered questions of the second questionnaire.

Results: Half (53.8%) of the surveyed women breastfed for 3-5 months, 29.7% for 6 months and more, and 16.5% of the respondents breastfed for less than 3 months. The oldest (31-40 years) women breastfed their babies significantly longer than the youngest (<20 years) mothers. The mothers with a higher education breastfed their babies significantly longer than the less educated mothers. The married women breastfed longer than single or living with a partner. The mothers who did not give extra fluids and pacifiers breastfed significantly longer than the women who gave them. The majority of the mothers who had sore nipples, milk stasis, and mastitis breastfed for only up to 3 months.

Conclusions: Mothers at risk of short breastfeeding duration should be targeted as a group for breastfeeding promotion early in the pregnancy. The education of healthcare professionals who provide prenatal and postnatal care allows them to choose women who need additional breastfeeding support.
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December 2014

Associations between physical activity of primary school first-graders during leisure time and family socioeconomic status.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2009 ;45(7):549-56

Institute for Biomedical Research, Kaunas University of Medicine, Eiveniu 4, 50009 Kaunas, Lithuania.

In 2008, an international survey on obesity among first-graders and its risk factors was performed in Lithuania. The objective of this study was to assess physical activity of first-graders during leisure time according to family socioeconomic status. The study was performed in Siauliai region schools selected randomly in 2008. The anonymous questionnaires were distributed among 630 first-graders and filled out by 515 parents (response rate was 81.8%). It was showed that physical activity of first-graders during leisure time is insufficient. More than half of them (60.4%) did not attend sports or dancing clubs; children spent much time passively watching TV or playing on a computer. Mostly children watched TV for 2 hours on workdays (45.1%) and for 3 hours or more on weekends (41.4%). Mostly children spent about an hour per day playing on a computer: one-third of first-graders spent it on workdays; during weekends, the percentage of children spending about an hour per day playing on a computer was lower (28.5%). One-third of first-graders (36.9%) spent their leisure time outside for 3 or more hours on workdays and 87.1% on weekends independently of parents' educational level, income, and place of residence. The associations between family socioeconomic status and physical activity of children were observed. The lowest percentage of children attending sports or dancing clubs and playing computer games was seen in low-income families and families where parents had low educational level. They spent more time outside (on workdays) compared with those children whose parents had university education and high income. Fewer first-graders from families living in villages than those living in cities attended sports or dancing clubs and played on a computer, but more of them spent leisure time outside.
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December 2009

The evaluation of knowledge and activities of primary health care professionals in promoting breast-feeding.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2009 ;45(3):238-47

Laboratory for Social Pediatrics, Institute for Biomedicical Research, Kaunas University of Medicine, Eiveniu 2-515, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Unlabelled: The objective of this study was to evaluate the knowledge and activities of Kaunas primary health care center professionals in promoting breast-feeding.

Material And Methods: A total of 84 general practitioners and 52 nurses participated in the survey, which was carried out in Kaunas primary health care centers in 2006. Data were gathered from the anonymous questionnaire.

Results: Less than half of general practitioners (45.1%) and 65% of nurses were convinced that baby must be exclusively breast-fed until the age of 6 months, but only 21.6% of general practitioners and 27.5% of nurses knew that breast-feeding with complementary feeding should be continued until the age of 2 years and longer. Still 15.7% of general practitioners and 25% of nurses recommended pacifiers; 7.8% of general practitioners advised to breast-feed according to hours. Half of the health professionals recommended additional drinks between meals; one-third of them--to give complementary food for the babies before the age of 6 months. One-third (29.6%) of the health professionals surveyed recommended mothers to feed their babies more frequently in case the amount of breast milk decreased.

Conclusions: The survey showed that knowledge of medical personnel in primary health care centers about the advantages of breast-feeding, prophylaxis of hypogalactia, and duration of breast-feeding was still insufficient.
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May 2009

Risk factors for noncommunicable diseases in Lithuanian rural population: CINDI survey 2007.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2008 ;44(8):633-9

Institute for Biomedical Research, Kaunas University of Medicine, Eiveniu 4, 50009 Kaunas, Lithuania.

Unlabelled: The aim of the study was to assess the risk profile for noncommunicable diseases in Lithuanian rural population.

Material And Methods: Within CINDI program, the risk factor survey was carried out in five rural regions of Lithuania in random sample of population aged 25-64 years in 2007. The risk factors were defined according to the WHO criteria. A total of 1739 participants were enrolled in the study.

Results: The prevalence of hypertension was considerably higher among men than among women (60.3% and 44.6%, respectively). Hypercholesterolemia was identified in half of examined persons with no gender difference. The proportion of obese female persons was greater than male. Metabolic syndrome was diagnosed in 15.1% of men and in 21.5% of women. The significant gender difference was observed in the prevalence of regular smoking (47.5% in men and 18.1% in women) as well as risky alcohol consumption (26.7% of men and 3.1% of women). The majority of rural population was lacking leisure-time physical activity. The prevalence of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and metabolic syndrome was increasing with age in both men and women. Regular smoking and risky alcohol consumption were more common among younger than older population. Leisure-time physical activity tended to increase with age.

Conclusions: The prevalence of risk factors for noncommunicable diseases in Lithuanian rural population is high. The obtained data prove that comprehensive and intersectorial preventive actions aimed at the reduction in the risk of noncommunicable diseases are urgently needed in Lithuania.
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September 2010

Health behavior of families having preschool-age children.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2007 ;43(10):816-23

Institute for Biomedical Research, Kaunas University of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania.

The aim of this study is to assess health behavior among families growing up the preschool children. The study was performed in 2007 in Kaunas kindergartens selected randomly. The anonymous questionnaires were filled in by 271 families. Mothers answered to the questions more frequently than fathers did. Fathers were less educated than mothers. It was estimated that preschool-age children used fresh vegetables and fruits insufficiently. Two-thirds of children ate fresh vegetables at least once a day, and only 1 of 20--3 times a day. Children ate fresh fruits more frequently than vegetables: every tenth child used them three times a day. The tendency of relation between parents' education and frequency of eating fresh vegetables and fruits was established. More frequently they were used in families where parents had university education. Physical activity of examined families was insufficient. Half of the parents have never done their morning exercises, and about half of the preschool-age children did their exercises rarely (12.5%) or never (41.4%). The majority of children exercised every day in families where fathers had incomplete secondary/secondary education. Children spend much time passively watching TV or playing with computer. Harmful habits among parents are spread widely in the families: more than one-third of fathers and every thirteenth mother smoke regularly; alcohol is used in the majority of families.
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January 2008

[The links between learning load and well-being of high school seniors].

Medicina (Kaunas) 2007 ;43(4):332-7

Department of Preventive Medicine, Kaunas University of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Objective: To evaluate the links between learning overload and psychoemotional well-being of 12th grade students.

Material And Methods: In April 2006, an anonymous survey of 184 high school seniors was conducted in six secondary schools and one gymnasium of Kaunas.

Results: The total learning load of students was too high and made up 54.79+/-0.98 hours on average. The learning load of 61.4% of children was too high; girls mentioned this problem two times more often than boys did. Students suffered from psychoemotional problems: about half of them felt stress at school; every fifth fell asleep with difficulties. Students whose total learning load was too high (more than 48 hours per week) felt stress, tiredness, stomach or abdominal, head or back pains, vertigo or weakness significantly more often in comparison with those who had normal learning load.

Conclusions: The total learning load of the majority of investigated high school seniors was too high. The psychoemotional well-being of 12th graders was unsatisfactory; girls complained about worse well-being than boys more frequently, they used medicine more frequently in comparison to the students whose learning load was normal.
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June 2007

Skin cancer prevention: children's health education on protection from sun exposure and assessment of its efficiency.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2004 ;40(4):386-93

Department of Preventive Medicine, Kaunas University of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania.

The aim of the study was to assess schoolchildren's knowledge on sun exposure, the peculiarities of behavior in the sun, and the possibility of altering these indicators via education program. The study of the efficiency of the self-designed educational program "Let's know the sun better" included 213 fifth grade pupils (113 boys and 100 girls) from Kaunas city schools; the pupils were differentiated into two groups: the experimental (n=106) and the control (n=107) groups. The method employed was anonymous questionnaire-based inquiry. The data of the inquiry applied before the application of the educational programs showed that schoolchildren's behavior in the sun is careless: 40.4% of the studied schoolchildren experienced severe sunburns; 54.0% of children spend three and more hours on the beaches, most frequently between 11 am and 3 pm. Not all schoolchildren use sun protection measures. Most frequently they only have bathing suits (70.0%), baseball caps (56.8%), and sunglasses (57.7%). Out of the studied schoolchildren 18.8% use sunscreen, but only 7.3% of them know how to use it properly. The second inquiry was performed after the schoolchildren were able to apply the recommendations of the educational program "Let's know the sun better" in practice during the summer. The data of this inquiry showed that the knowledge, attitudes, and the peculiarities of behavior in the sun in the experimental group were better compared to the control group. Significantly more schoolchildren in the experimental group (44.1%), compared to the control group (8.5%), used sunscreens properly (p<0.05) and knew which sunscreen is the most suitable (respectively, 42.3% and 20.6%; p<0.05); in addition to that, the children in the experimental group more frequently wore long-sleeved shirts on the beaches (21.0% and 7.5%, respectively; p<0.05), wide-brimmed sunbonnets (37.1% and 10.4%; p<0.05), and sunglasses (61.9% and 44.3%; p<0.05). The findings of the study proved both the necessity and the efficiency of the prepared educational program.
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November 2004
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