English children have low life satisfaction

According to Barnardo’s, an international survey of children’s well-being reveals the eight-year-olds in England are less happy than those in Romania, Poland and Algeria.

England ranks 13 out of 16 countries when it comes to children’s life satisfaction, with only South Korea, Nepal and Ethiopia faring worse.

More than 17,000 children from 16 countries were asked about their family and home life, friendships, money, personal well-being and overall happiness.

To read the full report Children’s Worlds on the isciweb.org

Global recommendations to stop childhood obesity

The World Health Assembly recently adopted a global target for all countries to renew their efforts to halt the rise of obesity in children under 5 by 2025.

The Commission’s recommendations to address childhood obesity cover six areas:

  • promotion of intake of healthy foods;
  • promotion of physical activity;
  • preconception and pregnancy care;
  • early childhood diet and physical activity;
  • health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children;
  • weight management.

To read the report and other publications on childhood obesity on the euro.who.int website.

Children and Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

Children and adolescents logo

June 2014. All the evidence shows that investing in the health and wellbeing of our children and young people brings life-long benefits – not only to the young people themselves but also to their families and wider society.

Attendees at this seminar had the opportunity to hear examples from the UK and abroad of good practice in securing the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents through actions and interventions outside the home. The programme gives brief biographies of both speakers and their presentations covered European projects that have focused on obesity, body image and the associated mental health of young people as well as a project that generated sustainable support networks.

Using the internet to fight alcohol abuse

The Italian Ministry of Health is using two of the best communication tools geared to young people – the internet and music – to deliver an important message about alcohol. In Italy, like Europe as a whole, alcohol abuse is the leading cause of death and disability among people under 30.

To read more about the campaign (in Italian), click here on http://ec.europa.eu

Obesity and diabetes the new killers amongst the young

Fewer people are dying from stroke and heart attacks than before, but rising levels of obesity and diabetes, particularly among younger people, are going to push mortality rates higher, according to a new OECD report. Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes: Policies for Better Health and Quality of Care points out that although there has been a 60% drop in mortality rates in the last 50 years in OECD countries from cardiovascular disease (CVD) it still remains the leading cause of death.

Currently around 85 million people in OECD countries have diabetes, which represents around 7% of people aged 20-79 years, and this number is projected to reach 108 million by 2030 – a 27% increase. Obesity is also rising, affecting one in five people in the OECD. Amongst other things, the report recommends that countries should:

  • Do more to promote healthier lifestyles. Anti-smoking policies, initiatives to reduce salt consumption and combat obesity have all been shown to be effective
  • Ensure primary care is financially accessible to everyone and the gap between recommended care and care provided in practice is closed.
  • Improve accountability and transparency of primary care performance.
  • Establish a national framework to improve the quality of acute care and reduce regional     variations within countries.
  • Ensure reforms involve every single aspect of the health system, from policies and prevention to primary care, emergency care, acute care and rehabilitation, as the complexity of treating CVD and diabetes means that the chain of care is only as strong as its weakest link.

To read the full report, click here on www.oecd.org

Speed kills – especially children

In the European Region there is no greater threat to the lives of children aged 5–17 years than a road traffic crash. The likelihood of death from road traffic injuries among children in low- and middle-income countries is almost twice as high as among those in high-income countries. Children are vulnerable as road users, whether as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or car occupants. To combat this relentless loss of daily life, the global campaign proposes ten strategies to keep children safe on the roads. These strategies are:

  1. controlling speed on all roads, and in particular enforcing a maximum speed limit of 30 km per hour on roads with high concentrations of pedestrians;
  2. reducing drinking and driving to protect children from this major threat;
  3. using helmets for bicyclists and motorcyclists to reduce the risk of serious head injury;
  4. restraining children in vehicles by using infant car seats, child car seats, booster seats and seat-belts appropriate for a child’s age;
  5. improving children’s visibility through wearing reflective strips, using headlamps on bicycles and motorbikes, appointing crossing guards around schools and enhancing street lighting;
  6. enhancing road infrastructure to slow traffic and separate different types of road users, and creating car free zones;
  7. adapting vehicle design to make safer cars for passengers and pedestrians;
  8. reducing risks for young drivers by introducing graduated driver licensing schemes;
  9. providing appropriate care for injured children with equipment and staff trained to treat         children;
  10. supervising children around roads, to complement the other measures.

To read more about these strategies, click here on www.who.int

To read the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013, click here on www.euro.who.int

The new Tobacco Products Directive

This Directive is a major achievement for public health in the EU, in particular as regards the protection of young people. Once it is implemented, there will be major changes in the type and packaging of tobacco products available on the EU market as the Directive prohibits strong flavours such as fruit or menthol in cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco. It requires that cigarette packages carry big pictures and text warnings that remind consumers of the risks of smoking and bans the use of misleading terms such as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’.

The Directive also introduces measures to combat the illicit trade of tobacco products. New provisions for nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes will ensure that these products are safer and of better quality, and properly labelled. The Directive has already been challenged in court by both the tobacco and e-cigarette industry as well as by one Member State.

The European Parliament and Council are working together, with the help of the Commission, to ensure that the rules agreed by the co-legislators are upheld in Court and that the internal market and public health benefits of the new Directive are not lost. Encouragingly, a number of Member States (France, Ireland and the UK) have signalled their intention to go further and introduce fully standardised packaging. Like Australia before them, these countries are committed to ensuring that tobacco companies do not use packaging to entice young people to use their products. They are frontrunners in the protection of young people and citizens from the harmful effects of smoking.

Smoking prevalence has been falling in the EU over recent years and this Directive will reinforce that trend and mean even fewer young people will be attracted to start.

To read more about the Directive, click here on http://ec.europa.eu

Treatment of cannabis-related disorders in Europe

This publication is part of a set of statistical articles based on the Eurostat document “Being young in Europe today. It reviews the interventions used in the treatment of cannabis disorders and maps out the geography of cannabis treatment in Europe.

To download the publication, click here on www.emcdda.europa.eu

For more information about the Eurostat document, click here on http://ec.europa.eu

WHO helps reduce the marketing to children of foods

Unhealthy diets are a leading factor affecting health and well-being in every European country, with rising overweight and obesity among children of particular concern as it affects up to 27% of 13-year-olds and 33% of 11-year-olds. The leading categories of advertised foods are soft drinks, sweetened breakfast cereals, biscuits, confectionery, snack foods, ready meals and fast food. Brand recognition starts in early childhood and children who recognize multiple brands by the age of 4 years are more likely to eat unhealthily and be overweight.

Research has demonstrated that overweight children in particular respond to the presence of branded food packaging by increasing their consumption. Marketing of foods high in energy, fats, sugars or salt has a documented harmful impact on children as it promotes the development of unhealthy food preferences and diets, and childhood obesity, thus contributing to the later development of diet-related non-communicable diseases. Yet across Europe, children are still regularly exposed to marketing that promotes foods and drinks high in energy, saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt.

Despite progress in some countries, it can be difficult for governments to identify foods whose marketing should be restricted, so WHO has developed a nutrient profile model for countries to adapt and use to classify foods according to their nutritional composition. Policy-makers across the Region will be able to use this tool to determine whether or not a food product should be marketed to children. The WHO model is largely based on the Danish and Norwegian models, which are used to restrict food marketing to children and countries can either use the model as it is, or adapt it to their own cultural circumstances. It can be used in two ways:

  • to identify foods not to be marketed to children
  • to monitor the extent and nature of food marketing.

For more information on the WHO nutrient profile model, click here   on www.euro.who.int

For more information on the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015-2020, click here on www.euro.who.int

WHO’s rundown on e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine or other substances to a user as an aerosol rather than burning tobacco. The liquid contains four main ingredients: propylene glycol and/or glycerine as a base for producing the aerosol, flavours and optional nicotine. E-cigarettes contain and deliver varying levels of nicotine, some of which can be similar to levels in cigarettes.

About 500 e-cigarette brands are available today, but only a few have been analysed. Evidence  shows that e-cigarettes’ aerosol usually contains cancer-causing compounds, but at levels 1–2 orders of magnitude lower than those in tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes are therefore likely to be less toxic than conventional cigarettes but the levels of carcinogenic agents in some of the analysed brands are as high as those in the smoke produced by some cigarettes.

According to WHO’s 2014 report, “Electronic nicotine delivery systems”, the main health risks from e-cigarettes come from inhaling the nicotine and other toxic emissions and from overdosing by ingestion or through skin contact. Users fill e-cigarettes’ containers themselves so they, not the manufacturers, set the levels of nicotine. Nicotine poisoning can result from the liquid’s accidentally coming into contact with users’ skin or ingestion by children. The United States and the United Kingdom have already seen a tremendous increase in reported nicotine poisoning, often involving children.

Nevertheless, the reduced exposure to toxicants of well regulated e-cigarettes, used by established adult smokers as a complete substitution for cigarettes, is likely to be less toxic than conventional cigarettes or other combusted tobacco products. The amount of risk reduction, however, is unknown. E-cigarettes may carry a risk of addiction to nicotine and tobacco products among young people and non-smokers. However, they are likely to be less toxic than cigarettes for adult smokers if product content is well regulated and if the smokers use them as a complete substitution for cigarettes.

The inhalation of nicotine by nonsmokers, adolescents and pregnant women not only leads to addiction but has also been linked to some cardiovascular problems in adults. In addition, fetal and adolescent nicotine exposure can have long-term consequences for brain development. As young people account for a growing proportion of e-cigarette users, anti-tobacco experts are concerned that e-cigarette use can serve as a gateway for them to nicotine addiction and ultimately smoking. The literature shows that experimentation with e-cigarettes among adolescents doubled in 2008–2012. One of the presumed reasons for this can be the great variety of flavours of e-cigarettes (up to 8000 are available), including flavours like those of fruit, candy and alcoholic drinks. These could entice young people to experiment with e-cigarettes and then become addicted to nicotine.

For all these reasons, WHO can neither dismiss nor accept the use of e-cigarettes globally without further evidence, and regulation is necessary in the meantime both to protect the public from any potential ill effects and to ensure that these products do not contribute to the tobacco epidemic.

For more information on the WHO report, click here      on www.who.int