Saturday, November 29, 2008

The deliverables of the HOPE project are underway

The Health Promotion through Obesity Prevention across Europe (HOPE; project is now almost two years underway. Last Friday the HOPE consortium met at the EMGO Institute of the VU University Medical Center to discuss the project’s progress and to prepare the upcoming HOPE’s networks of networks meeting preceding the European Congress on Obesity 2008. As is usual practice in European Commission framework programs funded projects, the HOPE project work is divided in specific work packages, i.e. on obesity prevalence, risk factors, and prevention intervention success in infants and young children, school-aged children and adolescents, adults, and people from lower socio-economic position groups. Other work packages focus on an inventory of ongoing policy initiatives for obesity prevention across Europe, and on modelling future scenarios for obesity and its health consequences across Europe. During our Amsterdam meeting all HOPE work package leaders presented their progress with a specific focus on the policy recommendations based on the findings from their work packages.
Our preliminary results indicate that across Europe there is indeed evidence that obesity prevalence is still growing among school-aged children and adolescents, with a few countries that are exceptions to this rule. For younger children there is no evidence that obesity rates are growing. This should not be interpreted as evidence that obesity is no problem among younger children; the right monitoring data are just not available to explore trends in obesity prevalence in this age group in Europe.
For school-aged children it appears that school-based intervention that combine nutrition education, and that provide the right infrastructure and support for physical activity and health eating can make a difference. Such interventions are associated with more healthy behaviours as well as leaner body composition among children.
In the next few months we will finalise our finding, prepare these for publication in scientific journals, and translate these into concrete policy recommendations.