Between 2007 and 2008, EPINUT Research Group from Complutense University of Madrid (Spain) conducted a study of 2319 Spanish schoolchildren between 6 and 14 years. The results, published in Public Health Nutrition, showed significant differences in the waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) among children classified as undernourished, normally nourished, overweight and obese. Based on these results, researchers developed equations to estimate body fat percentage in both sexes from WtHR.
In 2012, statistics by the School Measurement Programme showed that not only was childhood obesity on the rise but whereas 1 in 5 children entering primary school are obese, upon leaving primary school this figure rises to 1 in 3.
Currently, over a third of children in the UK are either obese or overweight, a statistic that cannot be viewed in isolation and one that poses serious implications for the future of public health and government spending.
Industry experts have recognised that more needs to be done to prevent childhood obesity through education, as left ignored it can inevitably lead to serious diseases involving heart conditions, arthritis and diabetes at a later stage in life, all of which are treated at a significant cost and are easily preventable through an appropriate diet.
According to the European Commission, some 22 million children in the EU are considered overweight or obese, with the numbers growing by 400,000 per year. The EU has a pivotal role to play in dealing with these challenges through its food safety, public health, education and research policies.
With a key WHO commissioned review due to be completed this year on the the social determinants of health throughout all 53 Member States, this timely international symposium offers an invaluable opportunity to consider the progress made in tackling childhood obesity in Europe.