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  • CO-CREATE Youth Policy Briefs released - download, read and act!

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CO-CREATE Youth Policy Briefs: calling for collective action to address childhood and adolescent obesity.

Published

Approximately 41 million children between the ages of 5-19 years old were affected by overweight or obesity across Europe in 2016. That number is set to reach 10 million by 2030 impeding progress on the World Health Organization target of no increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity. The numbers speak for themselves – something is still missing in our collective response to address childhood obesity among youth.

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Photo: iStockphoto, James-Alexander

Approximately 41 million children between the ages of 5-19 years old were affected by overweight or obesity across Europe in 2016. That number is set to reach 10 million by 2030 impeding progress on the World Health Organization target of no increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity. The numbers speak for themselves – something is still missing in our collective response to address childhood obesity among youth.


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Overweight and obesity profoundly affects children’s growth, development, mental health, and well-being. Later in life excess body weight increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancers1.

But obesity is not only a risk factor for non-communicable disease (NCDs), it is a risk factor for serious illness from communicable disease. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11 2020, undeniable evidence has emerged showing the deadly interplay between obesity and coronavirus infection2. Early on, COVID-19 disrupted health and food systems. Lockdowns around the world led to sustained shifts in diets, physical activity levels, as well as worsening mental health, all of which may increase the risk of obesity and other NCDs3. A year later, the World Obesity Federation published alarming figures suggesting that 88% of COVID-19 deaths are in countries with high obesity rates4.

Behind the frontlines, youth involved in the CO-CREATE project across five European countries have been working collectively in Youth Alliances and through a series of online dialogue forums, adolescents held discussions, conducted research, and connected with relevant stakeholders. They developed and refined policy ideas to address the systemic factors which influence adolescent obesity and health in their respective countries. They decided it was time to share their concerns. The results of this work have now been published as policy briefs which were launched to commemorate World Obesity Day on March 4th, 2021.

There still tends to be a stronger focus on individual-level-based interventions, less so on population-based strategies and policies, and a lack of seeing a complete system and the relationship between all these policies. The voices of young people are still largely missing’. Professor Knut-Inge Klepp, the Principal Investigator of CO-CREATE said.

Country Spotlights

Country The need for action1 CO-CREATE youth proposed solution More information
Norway

The prevalence of children and adolescents (5-19 years old) living with obesity is predicted to increase from 8.0% (2010) to 11.1% (2025)

Chance of meeting WHO 225 Target: 19%5

CO-CREATE Youth Alliances in Oslo and Hadeland advocate for policies that increase the accessibility and affordability of exercise facilities in schools.

They also identify that marketing restrictions on unhealthy food need to be more stringent.

 

Read the policy brief here.

 

 

The Netherlands

The number of children and adolescents (5-19 years old) living with obesity is predicted to increase from 5.9% (2010) to 9.7% (2025)

Chance of meeting WHO 2025 Target: 10%

CO-CREATE Youth Alliances in Amsterdam and Almere advocate for sugar taxes and interventions in school settings, primarily educational cooking classes, and improvements to school canteen food as a means of reversing current projections.

Read the policy brief here.

Poland

The number of children and adolescents (5-19 years old) living with obesity is predicted to increase from 6.6% (2010) to 13.4% (2025)
Chance of meeting WHO 2025 Target: 2%

CO-CREATE Youth Alliances in Swidnica, Miejska Gorka and Wroclaw advocate for policies that increase healthcare access and alter food product placement in markets and public places.

Read the policy brief here.

Portugal

The number of children and adolescents (5-19 years old) living with obesity is predicted to increase from 9.8% (2010) to 12.2% (2025)

Chance of meeting WHO 2025 Target: 26%

CO-CREATE Youth Alliances in Lisbon, Cascais and Oeiras advocate for marketing restrictions on unhealthy food products, increased education in school settings, and improved accessibility to sport facilities.

Read the policy brief here.

United Kingdom

The number of children and adolescents (5-19 years old) living with obesity is predicted to increase from 10.0% (2010) to 10.7% (2025)

Chance of meeting WHO 2025 Target: 39%

CO-CREATE Youth Alliances in Greenwich advocate for council funded cooking classes for young people, and the increased use of social media to promote health dietary habits.

Read the policy brief here.

 

The policies that CO-CREATE Youth urge policymakers and governments to enact are aligned with those identified in the NOURISHING and MOVING databases. It is more evident than ever where government need to act.

The disruption to the lives of young people by the pandemic and restrictive policies emphasizes the severity of the already established rise of adolescent overweight and obesity across the world. Youth health should be the most important priority as we open our societies. Young people have realised that now more than ever it is time for them to act and hold policymakers and governments accountable. The CO-CREATE Youth Alliances have given their recommendations. Are you ready to act?

Learn more about CO-CREATE here, and sign up to our newsletter to get the latest news from the project.

 

References

1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight 

2.World Obesity Federation. Policy Dossier on Obesity and covid-19. Accessible at: https://www.worldobesity.org/resources/policy-dossiers/obesity-covid-19

3. Robinson, E., Boyland, E., Chisholm, A., Harrold, J., Maloney, N., Marty, L., Mead, B., Noonan, R. and Hardman, C., 2021. Obesity, eating behavior and physical activity during COVID-19 lockdown: A study of UK adults. Appetite, 156, p.104853.

4. https://www.worldobesityday.org/assets/downloads/COVID-19-and-Obesity-The-2021-Atlas.pdf

5. World Obesity Federation. Atlas of Childhood Obesity. October 2019. Accessible at https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wof-files/WOF_Childhood_Obesity_Atlas_Report_Oct19_V2.pdf