Experts from the Ural State Medical University (USMU) have completed data collection within the framework of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). The study involved 3 thousand students in grades 1-3 from 70 schools in Yekaterinburg.
The study was started in February 2020 but the difficult epidemiological situation caused some adjustments to the design of study. Nevertheless, with the help of the Department of Education of the Administration of Yekaterinburg, as well as with the support of the head of the COSI project in Russia, WHO expert on childhood obesity, chief freelance pediatric endocrinologist of the Ministry of Health of Russia Valentina Peterkova, by the end of last year the specialists of USMU were able to complete their work in the field.
“At a parent meeting at every school we told parents about the study, received voluntary informed consent. Also, parents filled out a form, which reflected various factors affecting the physical development of children,” told Elena Anufrieva, associate professor of the Department of Public Health and Healthcare Organization of USMU.
Trained researchers with equipment provided by WHO – height gauges and scales – went to schools on agreed dates to take measurements. The collected data will be analyzed, which will allow to obtain representative data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the examined children of 7 years old, important for public health.
But already there are preliminary results: for example, experts have come to the conclusion that every fourth 7-year-old child is overweight or obese. Obesity is more common in boys than girls. Most children already in elementary school have risk factors that contribute to the formation of overweight: this, in particular, an inactive lifestyle, spending a lot of time with gadgets, lack of breakfast.
Childhood obesity research is being conducted in 35 member countries of the WHO European Region. In Russia, Moscow and Yekaterinburg take part in it, measurements are taken every three years for children 6-9 years old. Research is needed to properly understand the development of overweight, obesity, nutrition and physical activity in school-aged children. The results obtained will be used in conducting targeted preventive and health-improving measures in educational organizations.
“The Sverdlovsk Region has accumulated significant positive experience in the implementation of activities within the framework of school health care. With the participation of USMU in Yekaterinburg, the project “Schools promoting health” is being implemented, the tasks of which are the implementation of programs for effective interaction between the education and health sectors, as well as the replication of successful practices,” told Elena Anufrieva.