EU Science Hub

Mapping and zooming in on childhood obesity

Overweight and obesity are a challenge for children and adolescents worldwide and in the EU. This report shows the dimension of the challenge at the EU level and tells a series of stories, illustrated through maps, that highlight and make the case for the importance of showing data disaggregated at various levels (by socio-economic status or by region – NUTS2, and even NUTS3). The data and maps presented show that education level for example, is an important determinant of obesity. Data collected at local level are a powerful source of knowledge that can and should be used for evidence-informed and truly tailor-made targeted actions and policies. This is illustrated by the comprehensive yearly evaluation of children's health that the Portuguese city of Gaia organises and the actions that stem from it. Interventions at local level based on local data have immediacy and deliver a sense of action and empowerment that is hardly achievable at national level. The stories selected here are mere examples; other stories, using other disaggregated data sets, could have been told. There is room and need for deepening data collection relevant to children's health and childhood obesity and to make it more accessible and comparable. This will benefit decision-makers at every level, public health practitioners and researchers. And most importantly, it will benefit the health of children and adolescents in our continent.