COSI meeting shares success
The 8th WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) meeting welcomed representatives from over 30 countries on 18–20 May 2015 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, to discuss the latest figures from the 3rd data collection round.
Bulgaria, one of the countries participating in COSI, had already seen a huge impact in its childhood obesity figures from a major school food policy initiative, as reflected in the results of a school environment questionnaire. Hungary, where COSI data was used to develop a policy on improving water intake in schoolchildren, also saw a reduction in sugar-sweetened beverages in schools.
3rd data collection results discussed
The aim of the meeting was to share the latest preliminary results from the 3rd data collection round, as well as to discuss lessons learnt, successes, challenges and the expansion of the number of countries participating in COSI. Overall, the data continue to show worrying levels of obesity prevalence and confirm stabilization of prevalence in some – mainly southern European – countries. Some of the lessons learnt included:
- the importance of good coordination and a strong multidisciplinary team at both national and international levels;
- an emphasis on training before each round, and the significance of timing the measurement in the school year to ensure a representative sample of children of a specified age; and
- a greater emphasis on inequity, which is vital to ensure continued policy engagement and counteract complacency.
Focus for the year ahead
The focus of this year's event included:
- ongoing expansion associated with the scale-up of COSI;
- countries highlighting the importance of maintaining a balance between current tight adherence to very strict standards for data collection and the flexibility in facilitating wider participation;
- WHO/Europe's proposal to transition to the use of paperless/electronic data collection, which allows existing approaches to be used by countries in transition, and to outsource data cleaning and analysis through a tender process to an external organization;
- country suggestions to enhance mutual support such as: mentoring of new members by experienced members; working groups; procurement of measurement equipment by WHO/Europe to ensure consistency; webinars and preparation of a policy brief to illustrate examples of how COSI is influencing policy agenda; and
- an exploration of the synergies between the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC), the Schools for Health in Europe (SHE) network and COSI.
An update on the publication schedule for the results of the 3rd round was provided, and the next report and journal articles on COSI were discussed.
Participating and potential participant countries meet annually to discuss COSI country results, analysis and reporting, and trends in overweight and obesity in primary school children aged 6–9 years, in order to form a correct understanding of the progress of the obesity epidemic in this population group and to permit intercountry comparisons within the WHO European Region.