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Adolescent obesity and related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002–2014

A new WHO/HBSC report 'Adolescent obesity and related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002–2014' was published Wednesday May 17th at the European Congress on Obesity in Portugal.

The report presents the latest trends in obesity, eating behaviours, physical activity and sedentary behaviour from the HBSC study, and highlights gender and socioeconomic inequalities across the WHO European Region.

Trends have previously been reported separately, but this report brings together for the first time HBSC data on obesity and its related behaviours to review current evidence and consider the range and complexity of factors influencing childhood obesity.

The report reveals that the number of obese adolescents is continuing to rise in many countries across the WHO European Region. In general, younger adolescents, boys and those living in families of lower socioeconomic position are more likely to be obese. These findings indicate that ongoing health promotion and disease prevention efforts aimed at reducing childhood obesity are failing to adequately reach these groups.

“High rates of overweight and obesity among many countries in Europe are an important public health concern. Obese young people not only have a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, but also face psychological issues such as low self-esteem, depression and social isolation,” states lead author and HBSC study international coordinator, Dr Jo Inchley (University of St Andrews). 

Dr Joao Breda, Programme Manager for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, stresses that this has severe consequences reaching far into the future: “Most young people will not outgrow obesity: about four in every five adolescents who become obese will continue to have weight problems as adults. As such, they carry forward the increased risk of ill health, stigma and discrimination. Furthermore, the chronic nature of obesity can limit social mobility and help sustain a damaging intergenerational cycle of poverty and ill health.”

Policies to support improvements in diet and sustainable interventions within the context of schools, families, communities and food environments are needed for all young people.

Priority policy actions include fiscal measures, such as introducing a tax on sugar sweetened beverages, school food policies that define standards for foods available to children and adolescents, marketing restrictions and clear targets for the food industry to improve the nutritional quality of food products.

Download a copy of the report at: www.euro.who.int/en/hbsc-obesity-report

see here for further details

item 4272
[17-05-2017 to 31-12-2017]


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