Adolescents drink less, but alcohol consumption is still dangerously high

A new WHO report: “Adolescent alcohol-related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002–2014”, provides new insights into data collected over 12 years on adolescent drinking. The report reveals that alcohol use has declined among adolescents in Europe. However, despite the reductions, levels of consumption remain dangerously high and this continues to be a major public health concern.

For more information about the report on  Adolescent alcohol consumption

Reducing health inequalities in high-income countries

An umbrella review of the effects of public health policies in high income countries has been published. It suggests some interventions that policy makers might use to reduce health inequalities, but the transferability between high-income countries remains unclear.

Results of the assessments of polices were mixed: some were shown to reduce health inequalities (e.g. food subsidy programmes, immunisations), while others have no effect and some interventions appear to increase inequalities (e.g. 20 mph and low emission zones).

For the pdf of the review go to Reducing Health Inequalities



Spending hours sitting in meetings? Consult WHO’s new guide to planning healthy and sustainable meetings

“We somehow consider meetings to be an exception to the general healthy lifestyle we try to follow,” says Dr João Breda, Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and Programme Manager ad interim of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at WHO/Europe. “But this is mostly because the way they are organised often doesn’t give us much of a choice. Making meetings healthier does not have to be complicated or expensive – and often makes them more enjoyable.”

To read WHO’s guide on planning healthy and sustainable meetings go to: WHO/Europe | Obesity – Spending hours sitting in meetings? Consult WHO’s new guide to planning healthy and sustainable meetings

Health risks of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) 

The EU Scientific Committee has concluded that there is no evidence of direct adverse health effects from LEDs in normal use by the general population. Cellular and animal studies showing adverse effects appeared to be conducted under exposure conditions that were difficult to relate to human exposures or used exposure levels in excess of internationally agreed exposure limits.

There is a low level of evidence that exposure to light in the late evening, including that from LED lighting and/or screens, may have an impact on the circadian rhythm. At the moment, it is not yet clear if this disturbance of the circadian system leads to adverse health effects. Children have a higher sensitivity to blue light and although emissions may not be harmful, blue LEDs (between 400 nm and 500 nm) including those in toys may be very dazzling and may induce photochemical retinopathy, which is a concern especially for children below three years of age. Older people may experience discomfort from exposure to light that is rich in blue light.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: Final Opinion on Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) – European Commission

Southern European countries have highest rate of childhood obesity

The latest data (2015–2017) from the WHO Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) show that southern European countries have the highest rate of child obesity. In Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, San Marino and Spain, approximately 1 in 5 boys (ranging from 18% to 21%) are obese. Denmark, France, Ireland, Latvia and Norway are among the countries with the lowest rates, ranging from 5% to 9% in either sex.

In addition to weight and height measurements, many countries also submitted nutritional data, such as eating habits, as part of the programme. Encouragingly, in several countries three quarters or more of boys and girls are eating fruit either every day or most days (4–6) of the week. These include Albania, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, the Russian Federation (Moscow), San Marino and Turkmenistan (data from France and other countries in Scandinavia was not available here). Children in these countries also had lower consumption of foods like pizza, French fries, fried potatoes, hamburgers, sausages or meat pies, consuming them 1–3 days per week or never. Other data collected by the project include that on parent’s opinion of the child’s weight status, and also physical activity habits, although again not all of the 34 countries submitted data here

To read more about this on the WHO Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | Nutrition – Latest data shows southern European countries have highest rate of childhood obesity

Bad Habits that Lead to Cancer

Spending too much time in front of screens, getting little exercise and eating a diet high in fat and low in fruits and vegetables.

A new Northwestern Medicine study found that a lifestyle intervention could fully normalise these four unhealthy behaviours, which put people at risk of developing heart disease and common cancers, including breast, colon and prostate.

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research on the 19th of June.

“Our findings suggest that prevention of chronic disease through behaviour change is feasible. They contradict the pessimistic assumption that it’s not possible to motivate relatively healthy people to make large, long-lasting healthy lifestyle changes,” said lead author Bonnie Spring, director of the Center for Behaviour and Health in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Source: Bad Habits that Lead to Cancer, Chronic Disease Corrected by mHealth Intervention

Using Health and Social Data to monitor Health Inequalities

Those who experience social and economic disadvantage are more likely to be in poor health and have shorter lives than more advantaged peers. Full analysis of the risk factors for and trends in health inequalities is complex and requires comprehensive and comparable health and social data. When national and regional authorities have such data which can be disaggregated by socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, and education, they can plan and execute policies and interventions which tackle inequalities in cost-effective ways. In the latest issue of Policy Précis, EuroHealthNet examines what systems and measures for the collection of data are currently in place in Europe and Member States, and what improvements should be made.


To read more about using health and social data to monitor health inequalities go to: Using Health and Social Data to monitor Health Inequalities | EuroHealthNet

The Benefits of Social Media for Young People in Care

Young people in care benefit from the psychological, emotional and social support gained via social media networks – according to new research from the University of East Anglia’s Centre for Research on the Child and Family (CRCF). Until now, the automatic assumption has been that platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp only pose a risk for this vulnerable group.

To read more about the benefits of social media for young people in care go to: The Benefits of Social Media for Young People in Care

Climate change and health

The “right to health” acknowledged in the Paris Agreement is central to many of the actions that countries will take on climate change in the years to come.WHO/Europe plays a leading role in providing evidence and shaping policies on existing and emerging environmental health risks through the European Centre for Environment and Health (ECEH), located in Bonn.

Starting in the late 1980s, the WHO European Region also initiated the first-ever process to eliminate the most significant environmental threats to human health. Progress towards this goal is driven by a series of ministerial conferences held every 5 years and coordinated by WHO/Europe – most recently in Ostrava, Czechia, in June 2017.

To read more about climate change and health go to: