Maternal nutrition linked to children’s risk of NCDs and obesity

The nutritional well-being of pregnant women affects not only their fetuses’ development but also children’s long-term risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or obesity, according to a new report from WHO/Europe “Good maternal nutrition. The best start in life”.

While the importance of good nutrition in the early development of children has been recognized for decades, the report offers a systematized review of the most recent evidence on maternal nutrition and obesity and NCD prevention. The findings confirm that a mother’s nutritional status – including overweight and obesity, excessive gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes – affects not only her child’s health as an infant but also the child’s risk of obesity and related chronic diseases as an adult. In short, maternal nutrition can truly have an intergenerational impact.

The findings of this report further emphasize the need to implement strategies to optimize the nutrition of reproductive-age women. The evidence suggests that such interventions are among the most effective and sustainable means of achieving positive effects on health and reducing health inequalities across the next generation.

For more information about the impact of maternal nutrition on children on the euro.who.int website

 

Online violence towards children

UNICEF has launched a campaign – ENDviolence online – to highlight the perils of the internet for children today.

As part of this campaign it has produced a report “Perils and possibilities: growing up online” which showcases young people’s perceptions of the risks children and adolescents face coming of age in the digital world. As the boundary between online and offline fades, explore what children face in the ether today – and how we can all support them.

To download the report and find out more about the campaign for internet safety for children on the unicef.org website.

E-cigarettes and secondary school children

There has been a rapid rise in the retail availability of e-cigarettes in the UK and this study looks at the relationship between e-cigarette point-of-sale displays and e-cigarette use in young people.

A cross sectional survey was conducted in four high schools in Scotland and a response rate of 87 % and a total sample of 3808 was achieved. The survey found that adolescents who recalled seeing e-cigarettes in small shops or supermarkets were more likely to have tried an e-cigarette or intended to try them in the next six months.

To read all the details of this e-cigarette survey on the bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com website

Children in the developed world

Across the OECD, the risks of poverty have been shifting from the elderly towards youth since the 1980s. These developments accentuate the need to monitor the well-being of the most disadvantaged children, but income inequality also has far-reaching consequences for society, harming educational attainment, key health outcomes and even economic growth.

UNICEF has produced a report ‘Fairness for Children’ which contains league tables of inequality in child well-being in rich countries. It analyses the situation in 41 countries in the EU and OECD and focuses on ‘bottom-end inequality’ – the gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle – and addresses the question ‘how far behind are children being allowed to fall?’ in income, education, health and life satisfaction.

To read the full report on the unicef-irc.org website

Tobacco control in Slovenia

The Slovenian Health Ministry is proposing to tighten restrictions on tobacco products, in line with new EU rules, and also to introduce new levies to finance smoking prevention. This bill would reflect the new EU tobacco products directive and measures imposed by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The draft bill, the first overhaul of tobacco legislation since major limits on sales, advertising and smoking in public were imposed in 2007, seeks to discourage smoking, in particular among young people.

For more information about Slovenian tobacco control legislation on the euro.who.int website.

Decade of Action on Nutrition

Nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished and 159 million children under 5 years of age are stunted. Approximately 50 million children under 5 years are wasted and over two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile 1.9 billion people are overweight – of whom over 600 million are obese – and the prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing in nearly all countries.

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed a UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.

The resolution aims to trigger intensified action to end hunger and eradicate malnutrition worldwide, and ensure universal access to healthier and more sustainable diets – for all people, whoever they are and wherever they live. It calls on governments to set national nutrition targets for 2025 and milestones based on internationally agreed indicators.

For more information about the Decade of Action on Nutrition on the who.int website

Toys eaten by children

The EU’s independent Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) has published its final Opinion on estimates of the amount of toy materials ingested by children. The SCHER was asked to review available data on the ingestion of the following three types of toy material by children, and evaluate whether the ingestion amounts are still appropriate or should be changed:

  • Dry, brittle, powder-like or pliable toy material (ingestion amount 100 mg/da)
  • Liquid or sticky toy material (400 mg/day)
  • Scraped-off toy material (8 mg/day)

In the final Opinion the SCHER considers the ingestion amounts mentioned above to be appropriate, and that these ingestion amounts should remain classified as daily amounts rather than weekly.

To read the Final Opinion on the ec.europa.eu website

To read more about the Commission’s Independent Scientific Committees on the ec.europa.eu website

Diet, physical activity and health

In Europe today, 6 of the 7 biggest risk factors for premature death – blood pressure, cholesterol, Body Mass Index, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse – relate to how we eat, drink and move.

In April 2016 a conference was held on ‘Diet, Physical Activity and Health: a European Platform for Action‘.

Presentations included:

  • teaching children to be media-literate
  • responsible advertising
  • helping consumers make more informed food choices

To see all the presentations on the ec.europa.eu website

Alcohol and young people

The 3rd European Alcohol Policy Youth Conference is going to be the concluding event of the EU funded project Let  it hAPYN that has been empowering young people and youth organizations across Europe towards more effective and evidence-based alcohol interventions for the last three years.

The conference will focus on the three main areas of APYN’s work: capacity building, advocacy and youth research on alcohol and youth. It will be a great opportunity for networking and learning from the showcased products that were carried out in the last three years by youth organizations themselves.   It is expected that up to 100 young people between the ages of 18 and 30 from all around Europe will come together to plan the next stages of youth mobilization on the issues around alcohol in Europe.

To apply for a place at the Alcohol Policy Youth Conference in Slovenia in May 2016

Gender and socioeconomic impacts on young people’s health

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study  is updated every four years and since 2002 has shown that differences in reported life satisfaction between adolescents in western and eastern Europe have narrowed, with countries such as Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation and Ukraine reporting significant increases in life satisfaction over the period.

Data collected for the study are based on surveys completed by thousands of adolescents, ensuring that their voices and concerns can be taken fully into account when WHO frames its European strategies, policies and actions for improving child and adolescent health and well-being. The latest HBSC report, which presents data from the 2013/2014 surveys, has a special focus on the effects of gender and socioeconomic differences on the way that young people grow and develop.

According to the HBSC International Coordinator: “The findings highlight large gender disparities in health, which emerge or worsen during the adolescent years. While girls are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables and brush their teeth than boys, they report more negative self-perceptions and poorer mental well-being. Boys are generally more physically active but also more likely to engage in risky behaviours. Differences across countries show the importance of understanding the role of gender norms and cultural expectations in influencing behaviour.

The HBSC data has been fed into the WHO report Growing up unequal: gender and socioeconomic differences in young people’s health and well-being which covers 42 countries in Europe and North America. The cross-national survey covers diverse aspects of adolescent health and social behaviour, including self-assessment of mental health; obesity and body image; dietary habits; engagement in physical activity; support from families and peers; tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use; and bullying.

To read the key findings from the 2013/14 HBSC study, on the who.int website

To read Growing up unequal on the euro.who.int website