Publications by authors named "Iveta Pudule"

36 Publications

Assessment of Iodine and Selenium Nutritional Status in Women of Reproductive Age in Latvia.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2021 Nov 5;57(11). Epub 2021 Nov 5.

Department of Internal Disease, Riga Stradins University, LV-1007 Riga, Latvia.

Adequate dietary intake of iodine and selenium is essential during pregnancy. While iodine is vital for maternal thyroid function and fetal development, selenium contributes to the regulation of thyroid function and thyroid autoimmunity. This study aimed to assess the consumption of iodine- and selenium-containing products by women of reproductive age and the iodine and selenium nutritional status of pregnant women in Latvia. Population health survey (2010-2018) data were used to characterize dietary habits in women of reproductive age. Additionally, 129 pregnant women in the first trimester were recruited; they completed a questionnaire and were tested for thyroid function, urinary iodine concentration (UIC), and serum selenium and selenoprotein P levels. The use of some dietary sources of iodine (e.g., milk and dairy products) and selenium (e.g., bread) has decreased in recent years. Less than 10% of respondents reported the use of iodized salt. The use of supplements has become more common (reported by almost 50% of respondents in 2018). Dietary habits were similar in pregnant women, but the use of supplements was even higher (almost 70%). Nevertheless, most supplements used in pregnancy had insufficient contents of iodine and selenium. Thyroid function was euthyreotic in all women, but 13.9% of participants had a thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO-ab) level above 60 IU/mL. The median UIC (IQR) was 147.2 (90.0-248.1) μg/gCr, and 52.8% of pregnant women had a UIC below 150 μg/gCr. The mean selenium (SD) level was 101.5 (35.6) μg/L; 30.1% of women had a selenium level below 80 μg/L. The median selenoprotein P level was 6.9 (3.1-9.0) mg/L. Iodine nutrition in Latvian population of pregnant women was near the lower limit of adequate and a third of the population had a selenium deficiency. Supplements were frequently used, but most did not contain the recommended amounts of iodine and selenium.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/medicina57111211DOI Listing
November 2021

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

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

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

Insufficient sleep duration in association with self-reported pain and corresponding medicine use among adolescents: a cross-sectional population-based study in Latvia.

Int J Public Health 2020 Nov 15;65(8):1365-1371. Epub 2020 Sep 15.

Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Riga Stradiņš University, Kronvalda bulv. 9, Riga, LV, 1010, Latvia.

Objectives: Pain among adolescents is prevalent that may negatively affect adolescents' general well-being of which sleep is an important domain. This study aims to explore the associations between weekly pain and medicine use for relevant pain and insufficient sleep duration among 11-, 13- and 15-year-old adolescents in Latvia by assessing the moderation effect of gender and age.

Methods: Data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study on 2017/2018 of Latvia (n = 4412; 49.6% boys) were used. Logistic regression was applied to analyse the odds of insufficient sleep (< 7 h) on schooldays and weekends in association with weekly headache, stomach ache or backache and corresponding medicine use when testing the interaction effect of adolescents' gender and age.

Results: The experience of weekly pain with or without medicine use significantly increased the odds of insufficient sleep compared to adolescents with pain less than weekly, while controlling for gender and age. The interaction effect of gender and age on the studied associations was not significant.

Conclusions: Weekly pain among adolescents is a significant risk factor for insufficient sleep duration, regardless of adolescents' gender and age.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00038-020-01478-0DOI Listing
November 2020

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

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

Preventable premature deaths (PYLL) in Northern Dimension partnership countries 2003-13.

Eur J Public Health 2019 08;29(4):626-630

Department of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.

Background: Objective was to measure preventable premature loss of life in countries from same geographical area but with considerable differences in social and economic development. By comparing inter-country differences and similarities in premature mortality, acceleration of health-in-all-policies is enhanced.

Methods: Preventable premature deaths were described by Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL). Data consisted of death registers for 2003, 2009 and 2013. PYLL-rates were age-standardized by using standard OECD population from 1980 and expressed as sum of lost life years per 100 000 citizens.

Results: In Northern Dimension area, PYLL-rates had declined from 2003 to 2013. In 2013, worst PYLL-rate was in Belarus 9851 and best in Sweden 2511. PYLL-rates among men were twice as high as among women. Most premature losses (1023) were due to external causes. Malignant neoplasms came second (921) and vascular diseases third (816). Alcohol was also an important cause (270) and country differences were over 10-fold.

Conclusions: In ND-area, the overall development of public health has been good during 2003-13. Nevertheless, for all countries foci for public health improvement and learning from each other could be identified. Examining the health of populations in countries from relatively similar geographical area with different social history and cultures can provide them with evidence-based tools for health-in-all-policies to advocate health promotion and disease prevention. Gender differences due to preventable premature deaths are striking. The higher the national PYLL-rate, the bigger the PYLL-rate difference between men and women and the loss of human capital.
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August 2019

The 12-month prevalence of depression and health care utilization in the general population of Latvia.

J Affect Disord 2017 Mar 28;210:204-210. Epub 2016 Dec 28.

Department of Psychiatry and Narcology, Riga Stradins University, Tvaika street 2, LV-1005 Riga, Latvia. Electronic address:

Background: This cross-sectional study aims to assess the 12-month prevalence of major and minor depression in the Latvian population, and to evaluate associated health care utilization.

Methods: Trained interviewers conducted face-to-face interviews with a multistage stratified probability sample of the Latvian general population, ages 15-64 (n=3003). Participants were interviewed using the depression module of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Self-reported health care utilization and somatic illness were also assessed. Multinomial logistic regressions were applied.

Results: The 12-month prevalence of major depression was 7.9% (95%CI 7.0-8.9), while for minor depression it was 7.7% (95%CI 6.8-8.7). We did not find a substantial difference in the relative risk ratio (RRR 1.7 for female) for having major depression by gender. RRR of having major depression was higher for those who had used healthcare services six or more times (RRR 2.0), those who had three or more somatic disorders during the past 12 months (RRR 2.3), those who perceived their health status as being below average (RRR 8.3), and those who were occasional smokers (RRR 3.0). RRR of having minor depression was increased for those who had at least three somatic disorders (RRR 2.3), those who received disability pension (RRR 1.9), and those who perceived their health status to be below average (RRR 3.0).

Limitations: The study was cross-sectional. Other psychiatric comorbidity was not assessed.

Conclusions: This is the first population based study reporting the 12-month prevalence of depression in Latvia. Certain factors associated with depression have been found.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.031DOI Listing
March 2017

The 12-month prevalence of depression and health care utilization in the general population of Latvia.

J Affect Disord 2017 Mar 28;210:204-210. Epub 2016 Dec 28.

Department of Psychiatry and Narcology, Riga Stradins University, Tvaika street 2, LV-1005 Riga, Latvia. Electronic address:

Background: This cross-sectional study aims to assess the 12-month prevalence of major and minor depression in the Latvian population, and to evaluate associated health care utilization.

Methods: Trained interviewers conducted face-to-face interviews with a multistage stratified probability sample of the Latvian general population, ages 15-64 (n=3003). Participants were interviewed using the depression module of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Self-reported health care utilization and somatic illness were also assessed. Multinomial logistic regressions were applied.

Results: The 12-month prevalence of major depression was 7.9% (95%CI 7.0-8.9), while for minor depression it was 7.7% (95%CI 6.8-8.7). We did not find a substantial difference in the relative risk ratio (RRR 1.7 for female) for having major depression by gender. RRR of having major depression was higher for those who had used healthcare services six or more times (RRR 2.0), those who had three or more somatic disorders during the past 12 months (RRR 2.3), those who perceived their health status as being below average (RRR 8.3), and those who were occasional smokers (RRR 3.0). RRR of having minor depression was increased for those who had at least three somatic disorders (RRR 2.3), those who received disability pension (RRR 1.9), and those who perceived their health status to be below average (RRR 3.0).

Limitations: The study was cross-sectional. Other psychiatric comorbidity was not assessed.

Conclusions: This is the first population based study reporting the 12-month prevalence of depression in Latvia. Certain factors associated with depression have been found.
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March 2017

The 12-month prevalence of depression and health care utilization in the general population of Latvia.

J Affect Disord 2017 Mar 28;210:204-210. Epub 2016 Dec 28.

Department of Psychiatry and Narcology, Riga Stradins University, Tvaika street 2, LV-1005 Riga, Latvia. Electronic address:

Background: This cross-sectional study aims to assess the 12-month prevalence of major and minor depression in the Latvian population, and to evaluate associated health care utilization.

Methods: Trained interviewers conducted face-to-face interviews with a multistage stratified probability sample of the Latvian general population, ages 15-64 (n=3003). Participants were interviewed using the depression module of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Self-reported health care utilization and somatic illness were also assessed. Multinomial logistic regressions were applied.

Results: The 12-month prevalence of major depression was 7.9% (95%CI 7.0-8.9), while for minor depression it was 7.7% (95%CI 6.8-8.7). We did not find a substantial difference in the relative risk ratio (RRR 1.7 for female) for having major depression by gender. RRR of having major depression was higher for those who had used healthcare services six or more times (RRR 2.0), those who had three or more somatic disorders during the past 12 months (RRR 2.3), those who perceived their health status as being below average (RRR 8.3), and those who were occasional smokers (RRR 3.0). RRR of having minor depression was increased for those who had at least three somatic disorders (RRR 2.3), those who received disability pension (RRR 1.9), and those who perceived their health status to be below average (RRR 3.0).

Limitations: The study was cross-sectional. Other psychiatric comorbidity was not assessed.

Conclusions: This is the first population based study reporting the 12-month prevalence of depression in Latvia. Certain factors associated with depression have been found.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.031DOI Listing
March 2017

Adverse childhood experiences and associations with health-harming behaviours in young adults: surveys in eight eastern European countries.

Bull World Health Organ 2014 Sep 19;92(9):641-55. Epub 2014 Jun 19.

Institute of Public Health, Podgorica, Montenegro.

Objective: To evaluate the association between adverse childhood experiences - e.g. abuse, neglect, domestic violence and parental separation, substance use, mental illness or incarceration - and the health of young adults in eight eastern European countries.

Methods: Between 2010 and 2013, adverse childhood experience surveys were undertaken in Albania, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Romania, the Russian Federation, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. There were 10,696 respondents - 59.7% female - aged 18-25 years. Multivariate modelling was used to investigate the relationships between adverse childhood experiences and health-harming behaviours in early adulthood including substance use, physical inactivity and attempted suicide.

Findings: Over half of the respondents reported at least one adverse childhood experience. Having one adverse childhood experience increased the probability of having other adverse childhood experiences. The number of adverse childhood experiences was positively correlated with subsequent reports of health-harming behaviours. Compared with those who reported no adverse experiences, respondents who reported at least four adverse childhood experiences were at significantly increased risk of many health-harming behaviours, with odds ratios varying from 1.68 (95% confidence interval, CI: 1.32-2.15) - for physical inactivity - to 48.53 (95% CI: 31.98-76.65) - for attempted suicide. Modelling indicated that prevention of adverse childhood experiences would substantially reduce the occurrence of many health-harming behaviours within the study population.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that individuals who do not develop health-harming behaviours are more likely to have experienced safe, nurturing childhoods. Evidence-based programmes to improve parenting and support child development need large-scale deployment in eastern European.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.13.129247DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4208567PMC
September 2014

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

Health-behaviour inequalities among Russian and ethnic majority school-aged children in the Baltic countries.

Scand J Public Health 2012 Aug 22;40(6):553-62. Epub 2012 Aug 22.

Department of Preventive Medicine, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Aims: The main aim of this paper was to investigate whether ethnic heath inequalities exist in self-rated health and risk-taking behaviours (smoking, drunkenness, use of cannabis) between ethnic majority (Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian) and minority (Russian) population groups of school-aged children in three Baltic countries.

Methods: Investigation was carried out in the framework of Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. Randomly selected students aged 11, 13, and 15 years answered questionnaires in the classroom in 2006. In total, 14,354 questionnaire forms were selected for analysis.

Results: Russian boys were more likely (p<0.05) to evaluate their self-rated health positively in schools with Russian teaching language. Odd ratios for current smoking and drunkenness were significantly lower among Russian boys in the schools with Russian language of instruction (p<0.05) in comparison with the reference group. Russian girls did not differ significantly (the exceptions were smoking in Estonia and cannabis use in Latvia) from the majority population girls by self-rated health as well as by the risk of smoking, drunkenness, and use of cannabis.

Conclusions: The study found some differences in self-rated health and in risk-taking behaviours between Russian minority and ethnic majority students as well as between students of schools with different language of instruction (majority language vs. Russian) in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Being a member of minority group was not related with poor self-rated health or involvement in risk-taking behaviours in school-aged children in the Baltic countries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1403494812456633DOI Listing
August 2012

Soft drinks and obesity in Latvia: a stakeholder analysis.

Eur J Public Health 2011 Jun 23;21(3):295-9. Epub 2010 Jun 23.

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

Background: Childhood obesity is now firmly on the political agenda in western Europe but has received rather less attention in the eastern region of the European Union. This is a situation that cannot continue forever, especially in the light of evidence of the future social and economic cost of failure to act.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in Latvia were conducted in October 2004 to understand the Latvian response to childhood obesity and, specifically, to soft drink consumption as one of its key risk factors. Analysis was undertaken using the established principles of stakeholder analysis to assess the position and influence of the stakeholders on consumption of soft drink consumption within broader efforts to curb obesity in children.

Results: Twenty interviews were conducted and no one refused to be interviewed. Most stakeholders were concerned or convinced of the importance of restricting soft drinks consumption as part of initiatives to prevent childhood obesity. The most influential and supportive stakeholders were high school and primary school directors and parent groups.

Conclusion: These findings help elucidate the actions of the Latvian government in November 2006 when it moved to ban certain foods and drinks from schools based on a concern for the adverse impact of additives on child health. The rapidity with which this poorly evidenced decision took place may have been supported by the unique context of an unstable government, nutrition leadership in dissolution, relatively weak industry influence and a surprisingly strong movement of teachers and parents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckq062DOI Listing
June 2011

Bullying and subjective health among adolescents at schools in Latvia and Lithuania.

Int J Public Health 2008 ;53(5):272-6

Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Riga Stradins university, Dzirciema street 16, 1007, Riga, Latvia.

Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of bullying among adolescents in Latvia and Lithuania and to study its association with self-rated health, health complaints, and life satisfaction.

Methods: A total of 3417 students in Latvia and 5626 in Lithuania were surveyed using the Health Behaviour Study among School-aged Children 2001/2002 (HBSC) questionnaire and research protocol.

Results: Being a victim, bully, or bully/victim was reported by 30.1% adolescents in Latvia and 52.3% in Lithuania with the highest proportion reporting being a victim. Bullying was associated with poor subjective health and low life satisfaction.

Conclusions: The factors explaining the difference of bullying prevalence between both countries should be studied to develop effective anti-bullying interventions relevant to local conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00038-008-7041-1DOI Listing
March 2009

The sociodemographic patterning of drinking and binge drinking in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland, 1994-2002.

BMC Public Health 2007 Sep 13;7:241. Epub 2007 Sep 13.

National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Finland.

Background: Despite the relatively low recorded alcohol consumption level, the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and neighbouring Finland suffer from similar harmful consequences related to the use of alcoholic beverages, including socio-economic inequalities in alcohol related mortality. Comparative evidence is needed to understand harmful drinking patterns and to implement preventive alcohol policies also in the Baltic countries. This study compared heavy and binge drinking by sex, age, education, urbanisation and marital status in the Baltic countries and Finland. The data were nationally representative postal surveys conducted in Estonia (n = 6271), Latvia (n = 6106), Lithuania (n = 7966) and Finland (n = 15764) during 1994-2002. The criterion for heavy drinking was at least 15 portions weekly among men, and at least five among women, and for binge drinking at least six portions per one occasion. Heavy drinking was more common among younger participants in all countries, and in Latvia among the less-educated. Among Finnish men, and among women from all countries except Latvia, the better-educated were more often heavy drinkers. In Latvia and Finland, urban men, and in all countries, urban women, were more often heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking was more common among non-married Lithuanian and Finnish men, and Finnish women. Binge drinking was more common among less-educated Estonian and Latvian men, and among younger and less-educated women in all countries. Our results support the continued power of traditional drinking habits in the North Eastern part of Europe. In the future the target groups for prevention of excessive drinking should also include young and less-educated women in all four countries studied.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-7-241DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2048948PMC
September 2007

European citizens' use of E-health services: a study of seven countries.

BMC Public Health 2007 Apr 10;7:53. Epub 2007 Apr 10.

Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine, University Hospital of Northern Norway, Tromsø, Norway.

Background: European citizens are increasingly being offered Internet health services. This study investigated patterns of health-related Internet use, its consequences, and citizens' expectations about their doctors' provision of e-health services.

Methods: Representative samples were obtained from the general populations in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Poland, Portugal and Latvia. The total sample consisted of 7934 respondents. Interviews were conducted by telephone.

Results: 44 % of the total sample, 71 % of the Internet users, had used the Internet for health purposes. Factors that positively affected the use of Internet for health purposes were youth, higher education, white-collar or no paid job, visits to the GP during the past year, long-term illness or disabilities, and a subjective assessment of one's own health as good. Women were the most active health users among those who were online. One in four of the respondents used the Internet to prepare for or follow up doctors' appointments. Feeling reassured after using the Internet for health purposes was twice as common as experiencing anxieties. When choosing a new doctor, more than a third of the sample rated the provision of e-health services as important.

Conclusion: The users of Internet health services differ from the general population when it comes to health and demographic variables. The most common way to use the Internet in health matters is to read information, second comes using the net to decide whether to see a doctor and to prepare for and follow up on doctors' appointments. Hence, health-related use of the Internet does affect patients' use of other health services, but it would appear to supplement rather than to replace other health services.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-7-53DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1855923PMC
April 2007

Educational variations in the consumption of foods containing fat in Finland and the Baltic countries.

Public Health Nutr 2007 May;10(5):518-23

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

Objective: To examine educational differences among people who consume foods containing fat in Finland and the Baltic countries.

Design: Data were collected from cross-sectional postal Finbalt Health Monitor surveys that were carried out in 1998, 2000 and 2002.

Setting: Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Subjects: For each survey, nationally representative random samples of adults aged 20-64 years were drawn from population registers (Estonia, n = 3656; Finland, n = 9354, Latvia, n = 6015; Lithuania, n = 5944).

Results: Differences were revealed between the countries in the consumption of foods that contain fat. Finnish people consumed butter on bread, high-fat milk, meat and meat products, and vegetable oil for cooking less frequently than people in the Baltic countries. Cheese was most popular in Finland. Educational differences in fat-related food habits were examined by applying logistic regression analysis. A positive association was found between level of education and consumption of vegetable oil used in food preparation. Drinking high-fat milk was associated with low education in all countries. People with higher education tended to consume cheese more often. Educational patterns in the consumption of butter on bread and in the consumption of meat and meat products differed between countries.

Conclusions: The consumption of foods containing fat was related to educational levels in all four countries. The diet of better-educated people was closer to recommendations for the consumption of saturated and unsaturated fats than the diet of people with lower level of education. The educational gradient was more consistent in Finland than in the Baltic countries. These existing educational differences in sources of fat consumed should be taken into account in the development of national cardiovascular disease prevention programmes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980007246695DOI Listing
May 2007

Trends in the magnitude of educational inequalities in health in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland during 1994-2004.

Public Health 2006 Sep 1;120(9):841-53. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, National Public Health Institute, Mannerheimintie 166, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland.

Background: Socioeconomic inequalities in health in the Baltic countries are possibly increasing due to concomitant pressures. This study compared time trends from 1994 to 2004 in the pattern and magnitude of educational inequalities in health in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland.

Methods: The data were gathered from cross-sectional postal surveys of the Finbalt project, conducted every second year since 1994 on adult populations (aged 20-64 years) in Estonia (n=9049), Latvia (n=7685), Lithuania (n=11,634) and Finland (n=18,821). Three self-reported health indicators were used: (i) less than good perceived health, (ii) diagnosed diseases, and (iii) symptoms.

Results: The existing educational inequalities in health in three Baltic countries and Finland remained generally stable over time from 1994 to 2004. Also, the overall prevalence of all three health indicators was generally stable, but in the Baltic countries improvement in perceived health was mainly found among the better-educated men and women. Diagnosed diseases increased in the Baltic countries, except Lithuania, where diseases decreased among the better-educated women. Symptoms increased among the better-educated Estonian and Finnish women.

Conclusions: The period from 1994 to 2004 of relative stabilization since the worst conditions of the social transition has not been followed by notable changes in self-reported health, and this appears to be the situation across all educational groups in the Baltic countries. While health inequalities did not markedly change, substantial inequalities do remain, and there were indications of favourable developments mainly among the better-educated respondents. The factors contributing towards increasing health inequalities may only be visible in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2006.05.007DOI Listing
September 2006
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