Childhood obesity continues to be a key challenge for most countries in the European Union. According to the World Health Organisation’s Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI), around 1 in every 3 children aged 6-9 years old is overweight or obese, while each year around 7% of national health budgets across the EU are spent on diseases linked to obesity.
Despite policy action promoted at EU level to tackle the growing trends in overweight and obesity, both elements remain prevalent among children and adolescents in European countries. With children being increasingly exposed to an environment which encourages weight gain and obesity due to factors such as the accessibility of healthy and varied diets, a steady decline in physical activity as well as a strong vulnerability to food marketing messages, the risk of witnessing a growing obesity epidemic in the years to come is realistic.
Addressing childhood obesity therefore requires developing a comprehensive approach that encompasses responsible governmental and stakeholder action directed towards obesity prevention and treatment. This approach should embody measures such as the availability and affordability of healthy diets and the promotion of policies aiming at increasing levels of physical activity, which takes into consideration the child’s life-course and its own environment.