World Health Organization: Obesity Affects 1 in 3 Children in Croatia

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The new research conducted by Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, Croatia (CroCOSI) showed that 35% of children aged 8-9 are overweight or obese and 17.7%  of boys and 11.9% of girls in Croatia are affected. According to WHO Europe, the fact that 1 in 3 children in Croatia suffers from overweight or obesity poses a significant public health concern for Croatia.

Childhood obesity affects both the physical and mental health of children. Overweight and obese children are at a greater risk of developing many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, musculoskeletal disorders, high blood pressure, and others. Unfortunately, studies also show that children with obesity often suffer from social disadvantages and therefore, tend to develop lower self-esteem and feel socially isolated. Obesity also plays a great factor in developing chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which was recorded to affect and cause over 90% of deaths in Croatia. 

The children obesity survey was conducted throughout Europe and Croatia ranked 7 among the Meditteranean European countries. The Adriatic region also showed the highest percentage of overweight or obese children in Europe with a record of 36.9%. The head of the Health Promotion Division of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Professor Sanja Musić Milanović, MD, MPH, Ph.D., said that there was an increase of 6% in overweight and obesity among girls in the Adriatic region compared to previous studies. Prof. Sanja Milanović warns that this trend is very concerning and needs to be addressed by the public health policy in Croatia.

Nutrition and lifestyle survey by CroCOSI

The results of the survey will be used to further promote the health activities in Croatian schools. Although regular physical exams for school children is mandatory in Croatia, their nutritional status, physical activity, dietary habits, and lifestyle are not collected in a standardized way. To improve the situation, Croatia joined the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) of WHO Europe and named it CroCOSI ( Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, Croatia) in 2015-2016. 

COSI is a European movement to continuously monitor the nutritional status of children through a regular collection of comparable data of school children in Croatia aged 8-8.9 years old and their families including lifestyle habits and the environment of the schools they attend. The collective data allow inter-comparison of the health and nutritional trend in Europe and are used in raising awareness of the growing rates of obesity and health problems in Croatia and all the states involved.

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