More than two thirds of eight-year-olds in Croatia overweight

ZAGREB, 11 March (Hina) – More than 36% of eight-year-olds are overweight or obese, and the problem is more pronounced in boys than in girls and is most prevalent in the Pannonian region, according to research results presented on Monday at the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

According to the CroCOSI survey, which was conducted for the third time in 2021/2022, 36.1% of eight-year-olds are overweight or obese and Croatia, like other European countries, has not been able to stop the increase in obesity in children, it was underscored at the presentation.

The incidence of this major public health problem is continuing to increase, said epidemiologist Sanja Musić Milanović, who is at the helm of the research “European initiative to monitor obesity in children, Croatia 2021/2022В (CroCOSI)” organized by the European Office of the World Health Organization.

The first CroCOSI research in 2015/2016В recorded a prevalence of obesity in eight-year-olds of 34.9%, whereas in 2018/2019 it was 35%.

“The fact that every third child has a problem of excess body weight or obesity represents a major public health challenge. These children have an increased risk of having the same problem in adulthood too, which consequently means a greater risk for them to contract chronic non-communicable diseases and all that increases the expected burden on the health care system,” warned Musić Milanović.

Comparing the results by region, the smallest share of overweight and obese children was recorded in the City of Zagreb, 28.6%, while the largest share was in the Pannonian region, 38.9%. Every fifth child in that area is obese, it was said.

A higher frequency of obesity was recorded in families with a lower socioeconomic status. The findings of the research show that parents do not recognize excessive body weight and obesity in children to the extent that it is indeed present in children, and it is also poorly recognized in primary health care and school medicine.

Musić Milanović underlined that excessive body weight and obesity can be prevented and that it is necessary to invest efforts in preserving health from an early age.