Overweight and obesity rates are increasing in schoolchildren across Europe

A recent study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, published in the beginning of 2013 shows that overweight and obesity rates throughout Europe have increased in recent decades. The study was conducted in seven European countries (Belgium, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, and Spain) and was carried out among schoolchildren aged 10-12 years. A particular concern with the findings was that overweight and obesity seem to be kept from childhood into adulthood, a time when excessive weight related problems generally start showing up. Another former study undertaken by the WHO in 13 European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden) and presented on 25 September 2010 at the II World Congress of Public Health Nutrition in Porto, Portugal was showing that on average 24% of the children aged 6-9 years old are overweight or obese in the European region. The World Health Organisation also estimates that 60% of children who are overweight before puberty will be overweight in early adulthood. Childhood obesity has many risk factors for developing conditions and problems such as: (1) cardiovascular disease,(2) type 2 diabetes,(3) orthopaedic problems,(4) mental disorders,(5) underachievement in school(6) lower self-esteem...

Luckily there are many ways through which parents can help their children avoid or overcome obesity, healthy eating behaviours and regular physical activity being the most important.

Good practices parents can apply include the following:

(1) Limit the amount of time children watch television or stay in front of the computer

(2) Engage children in physical activity 2 to 3 times a week

(3) Avoid high-calories low-nutrient foods (candies, cookies or cake)

(4) Involve children in planning, shopping, and preparing meals

(5) Reduce snacking that may lead to overeating

(6) Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV...