Childhood obesity: action plan for population-based prevention


Dr Joao Breda, Programme Manager, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, WHO/Europe, receiving healthy lifestyle award in Kazakhstan, November 2013.

Childhood obesity has developed into a major public health concern in the WHO European Region, associated with both short- and long-term negative health consequences, as well as psychological, social and economic repercussions. In fact, the serious increase of obesity rates worldwide makes it commonly considered as one of the most challenging health threats of the beginning of this century.

In close collaboration with the Member States, WHO/Europe has developed several initiatives to address this issue, both in monitoring and policy making, such as the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) and several other activities, including the "Multisectoral country workshop for the development of an action plan for population-based prevention of childhood obesity" held in both Kazakhstan (18-20 November 2013) and in Serbia (10-12 December 2013).

Beyond reviewing countries’ data on childhood obesity, diet, physical activity and chronic disease, these workshops defined population-based strategies and high-priority fields of action towards the prevention of childhood obesity. WHO has developed the tool “Prioritizing areas for action in the field of population-based prevention of childhood obesity” (accompanied by a WHO guide to population-based approaches to childhood obesity) that determines and defines priority areas of action. This tool was already tested in the field in the 4 WHO Regions and the next phase is its implementation in selected countries. The objective of both meetings was to build the capacity of a multisectoral team with both government officials and other stakeholders towards its application. This strategy will allow a plan for population-based prevention of childhood obesity