Austrian COSI survey underlines the importance of school nutrition policies

As part of an initiative to tackle childhood obesity, Austria completed its first round of data collection for the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). The COSI survey measures trends in overweight and obesity among primary school children aged 6–9 years in order to understand the progress of the epidemic in this population group, gain intercountry comparisons within the WHO European Region and inform action to reverse the trend.

The Austrian survey results show clear regional differences. Urban living and the absence of free vegetable snacks in schools were associated with increased risk of overweight or obesity among children. The findings confirm that specific and targeted physical activity, nutrition and health promotion strategies in school and community setting are core aspects in fighting childhood obesity.

Expanding provision of free fruits and vegetables in school and strengthening programmes that support active travel to school may be particularly beneficial.

The full results of the study can be accessed here in German.