On 30 April 2014, the World Obesity Federation (formerly the International Association for the Study of Obesity) published its report "Obesity prevention in children in pre-school years: Policies and evidence". The report brings together findings from the EU-funded ToyBox project and a high-level workshop on the future of research in the field of childhood obesity, organised on 11 April, in which EPHA took part.

The document summarises the preliminary findings of the EU-funded ToyBox project and related research into prevention of obesity in the child population, and includes points discussed at a high-level workshop on policies and evidence to support the actions needed.

The report provides an overview of different approaches to promoting and protecting young children’s health, and the evidence available for its effectiveness in preventing weight gain. The list includes evidence of cost-effectiveness, health inequalities’ impact, as well as availability of implemented policies within the European region.

The ToyBox study aimed to design and pilot the development of a supportive social and physical environment at kindergartens and home to facilitate behaviour patterns thought to help protect young children from obesity, at low cost and with the potential to be applied across similar settings in Europe. Further details are available at www.toybox-study.eu

- FULL REPORT: World Obesity Federation report "Obesity prevention in children in pre-school years: Policies and evidence"

Out of the selection of preliminary study results it is worth particularly mentioning that:

  • Children in lower income families were more likely to be overweight or obese
  • The intervention was generally well received
  • The intervention achieved significant improvements in dietary behaviour and physical activity, with greater consumption of water and reduced consumption of confectionery
  • The intervention had a positive impact on the health behaviour of parents and families
  • The intervention did not increase the risk of health inequalities across Europe
  • A preliminary economic analysis indicates that the intervention was likely to be cost effective (the costs are reasonable for the amount of health gained).

The ToyBox project identifies (some) research priorities to support policy development.

  • There is a substantial lack of evidence on health inequalities, and a lack of reporting of the effectiveness of interventions among children of different socioeconomic status or ethnic groups.
  • There is a serious lack of longer term follow-up to assess how the effects of interventions are sustained.
  • There is a lack of consistency of reporting on the costs of an intervention, in the measurement methods and type of indicators
  • The transfer from evidence base to policy is inconsistent. Greater attention needs to be paid to the costs of failing to act, and the conflicting interests of stakeholders and the development of appropriate means to solve it.

In addition, the meeting of 11 April 2014 gave an overview of other EU-funded projects devoted to prevention of obesity among the child population, such as:

  • IDEFICS/i-Family - Identification and Prevention of Dietary and Lifestyle Induced Health Effects in Children and Infants

EPHA related articles

Last modified on May 27 2014.