Monday, December 3, 2012

Overweight and health behaviors in school children: Switzerland is doing good...

Overweight in children and adolescents is a major public health issue. To allow international comparisons, Switzerland joined the ENERGY study's cross sectional survey consortium that investigated the prevalence of overweight and obesity as well as selected dietary, physical and sedentary behaviors of 10--12 years old pupils across seven other countries in Europe. The aim of the study just published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity was to compare body composition and energy-balance related behaviors of Swiss schoolchildren to those of the seven European ENERGY-countries (i,e, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Spain) and to analyze overweight and energy-balance related behaviors of Swiss children according to socio-demographic factors. The results regarding these ENERGY countries were published in the journal Plos ONE earlier this year.
In Switzerland significantly less children were overweight (13.9%) or obese (2.3%) compared to the average across the ENERGY-countries (23.7% and 4.7%, respectively), and were even somewhat lower than the ENERGY countries with the lowest prevalence, i.e. Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands. Sugar sweetened beverage intakes and breakfast habits of Swiss children did not differ significantly from those of ENERGY. However, the mean time devoted by Swiss children to walking or cycling to school and attending sports activities was significantly higher and screen time significantly lower compared to the other ENERGY-countries. Within the Swiss, sample relatively large and consistent differences were observed between children from native and non-native ethnicity.