Thursday, April 26, 2012

First results of the ENERGY study: Greece tops the European league for overweight children

A survey of children in seven European countries, as part of the ENERGY project, found Greece topped the league, with twenty percent of all 10-12-year-olds obese, and a further 30% overweight, according to our paper published today in the scientific journal PLoS-ONE.
Obesity is hitting record levels among Europe’s children, with nearly one in ten obese and a further 20% overweight, averaged across all seven countries. Lowest levels were found in Norway where only 4% are obese, and a further 15% overweight.
Explaining these differences is not easy. We found children in Greece have the lowest levels of sports activities, children in Hungary and Greece watch the most television, children in Belgium sleep the most, and children in the Netherlands consume the most sugared drinks.
The team of researchers from 15 institutions across Europe found that girls tended to be slimmer than boys, but girls also tended to participate in sports less than boys. Boys watched more television and drank more soft drinks. The team also found that children of better educated parents tended to be slimmer, except in Greece or Spain. Clearly there are differences in the cultural traditions, family customs and dietary habits across different European communities that may determine such differences. The research tells us that children have one thing in common – they are all exposed to multiple causes of obesity which lead them to gain excess weight. Tackling just one cause on its own will not work.
The research is supported by a €2.9m grant from the European Commission, and will include pilot testing new interventions designed to reduce sedentary behaviour in children aged 10-12 years.

Please see the links below for publicity in the Dutch, Belgian and Norwegian media regarding this study, and click here for a TV item with an interview about our study.

The Netherlands:

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