Publications by authors named "Vesselka Duleva"

22 Publications

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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

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

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

Good practice criteria for childhood obesity prevention in kindergartens and schools-elaboration, content and use.

Eur J Public Health 2018 12;28(6):1029-1034

University of Physical Education, Budapest, Hungary.

Background: In accordance with the policy actions that address childhood overweight and obesity at European level and as a contribution to the EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-20, a Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity (JANPA) was established. As part of JANPA work package 6, an evaluation framework to identify good practices, targeting childhood obesity prevention in kindergartens and schools, was developed. This article describes the WP 6 JANPA framework of good practice criteria and its development, compares it to other frameworks and discusses its potential for future use.

Methods: Based on the analysis of scientific literature, a set of 47 potential good practice criteria was drafted, that was then revised and complemented through a series of online Delphi consultations.

Results: A final list of 48 good practice criteria (9 of which were rated as core criteria) was developed and grouped into three categories: intervention characteristics (n = 17), implementation (n = 17) and monitoring and evaluation (n = 14).

Conclusion: The identified JANPA framework of good practice criteria complements the existing frameworks by focussing on kindergarten- and school-based initiatives and provides guidance for evaluators, programme planners and decision makers bearing in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach is inadequate. To ensure the effectiveness of future practices, programme planners should endeavour to meet at least the nine JANPA core criteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cky129DOI Listing
December 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does eating family meals and having the television on during dinner correlate with overweight? A sub-study of the PRO GREENS project, looking at children from nine European countries.

Public Health Nutr 2014 Nov 19;17(11):2528-36. Epub 2014 Mar 19.

3Department of Biosciences and Nutrition,Karolinska Institutet,Stockholm,Sweden.

Objective: Family meals have been negatively associated with overweight in children, while television (TV) viewing during meals has been associated with a poorer diet. The aim of the present study was to assess the association of eating family breakfast and dinner, and having a TV on during dinner, with overweight in nine European countries and whether these associations differed between Northern and Southern & Eastern Europe.

Design: Cross-sectional data. Schoolchildren reported family meals and TV viewing. BMI was based on parental reports on height and weight of their children. Cut-off points for overweight by the International Obesity Task Force were used. Logistic regressions were performed adjusted by age, gender and parental education.

Setting: Schools in Northern European (Sweden, the Netherlands, Iceland, Germany and Finland) and Southern & Eastern European (Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria and Slovenia) countries, participating in the PRO GREENS project.

Subjects: Children aged 10-12 years in (n 6316).

Results: In the sample, 21 % of the children were overweight, from 35 % in Greece to 10 % in the Netherlands. Only a few associations were found between family meals and TV viewing during dinner with overweight in the nine countries. Northern European children, compared with other regions, were significantly more likely to be overweight if they had fewer family breakfasts and more often viewed TV during dinner.

Conclusions: The associations between family meals and TV viewing during dinner with overweight were few and showed significance only in Northern Europe. Differences in foods consumed during family meals and in health-related lifestyles between Northern and Southern & Eastern Europe may explain these discrepancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980013002954DOI Listing
November 2014

Mediation of parental educational level on fruit and vegetable intake among schoolchildren in ten European countries.

Public Health Nutr 2015 Jan 9;18(1):89-99. Epub 2014 Jan 9.

1Folkhälsan Research Center,Paasikivenkatu 4,00250 Helsinki,Finland.

Objective: To examine which factors act as mediators between parental educational level and children's fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake in ten European countries.

Design: Cross-sectional data were collected in ten European countries participating in the PRO GREENS project (2009). Schoolchildren completed a validated FFQ about their daily F&V intake and filled in a questionnaire about availability of F&V at home, parental facilitation of F&V intake, knowledge of recommendations about F&V intake, self-efficacy to eat F&V and liking for F&V. Parental educational level was determined from a questionnaire given to parents. The associations were examined with multilevel mediation analyses.

Setting: Schools in Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.

Subjects: Eleven-year-old children (n 8159, response rate 72%) and their parents.

Results: In five of the ten countries, children with higher educated parents were more likely to report eating fruits daily. This association was mainly mediated by knowledge but self-efficacy, liking, availability and facilitation also acted as mediators in some countries. Parents' education was positively associated with their children's daily vegetable intake in seven countries, with knowledge and availability being the strongest mediators and self-efficacy and liking acting as mediators to some degree.

Conclusions: Parental educational level correlated positively with children's daily F&V intake in most countries and the pattern of mediation varied among the participating countries. Future intervention studies that endeavour to decrease the educational-level differences in F&V intake should take into account country-specific features in the relevant determinants of F&V intake.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S136898001300339XDOI Listing
January 2015

Turning dilemmas into opportunities: a UNU/SCN capacity development network in public nutrition in Central and Eastern Europe.

Public Health Nutr 2009 Aug 6;12(8):1046-51. Epub 2009 Feb 6.

Nutrition Department, Institute for Medical Research, University of Belgrade, Tadeusa Koscuskog 1, Belgrade 11000, Serbia.

Capacity development in nutrition is a process whereby individuals, groups, institutions, organizations and societies enhance their abilities to identify and meet challenges in a sustainable manner. To address these issues, in 2001 the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) established a Working Group on Capacity Development under the joint coordination of the United Nations University (UNU) and the International Union of Nutritional Sciences. Several regional professional networks have developed under this working group, the latest for the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries. Ten CEE countries formed a network in 2006 and identified major nutritional challenges in the region, which included: irregular meal patterns; low consumption of fruits/vegetables, milk products and fish; low intake of some micronutrients; and high intakes of fat, sugar and salt. Public policies in nutrition were either weak or absent. Some countries had recently developed nutrition plans. Higher education in nutrition was seen as very important for public nutrition work by professionals in the region, who considered it a prerequisite for reversing the negative trend of the nutrition transition. The network will continue to work on issues that are still not covered adequately. Its activities to date and prospects for the future are assessed against ten principles for good capacity development suggested by the United Nations Development Programme.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980008004692DOI Listing
August 2009
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