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A third of children in WHO European region living with being overweight or obese

The World Health Organisation (WHO) European region is a vast geographical area encompassing more than 50 nations across the continent and Central Asia, and stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

In May 2023, the spouses of 16 European leaders and heads of state from this region met in the Croatian capital Zagreb, hosted by Croatia’s First Lady, Dr Sanja Musić Milanović.

secondary school using outdoor gym

12th June 2023

Together, they launched the inaugural Network of Spouses of European Leaders on the Prevention of Childhood Obesity for the WHO European region. At the same time, they adopted the Zagreb Declaration, outlining a clear political commitment to tackling childhood obesity across their area, while also encouraging other nations to do the same.

Why is childhood obesity such an urgent issue?

The WHO European Region Obesity Report from last year says that around a third of primary school-aged children across the area are overweight or obese, a figure that only looks set to go up. 

Meanwhile the World Obesity Atlas 2023 predicts that by 2035, there will be a 61% rise in the number of boys living with obesity, while the figure for girls will be 75%. (That rise applies to the years 2020-2035.) 

Further, The Atlas reckons that up to 17 million boys plus 11 million girls will be obese across the Region by the same year. By then, across all age groups obesity and being overweight are set to cost the Region $800bn a year. 

To help stop the situation from worsening, the WHO in Europe has identified three key priorities: 

1. Prevention – Efforts are needed from pregnancy, birth and early years onwards. 

2. Food and drink industry regulation – Measures include taxing sugary drinks, clear labelling and limiting advertising and marketing aimed at children. 

3. Encouraging physical activity 

Dr Milanović told journalists: “Childhood obesity is a disease of epidemic proportions, and negatively affects health and life quality and expectancy. It’s also a significant economic burden. Here at the summit, we have had the chance to demonstrate that it is our common problem. I believe the Zagreb Declaration is an important step, and that with joint action we will improve future generations’ health.” 

The links between being overweight or obese and a number of health conditions are well documented – including cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes and chronic respiratory illness, Obesity is also known to be a cause behind various cancer types. 

How outdoor gyms can help

Fresh Air Fitness is a leading provider of outdoor gym equipment for a broad client base. We provide two lines of outdoor fitness equipment – our Children's Range for primary school aged children, and our Adults Range for everybody over 11 years of age.  All our products come with a warranty lasting up to 25 years. 

We have worked with more than 1000 primary schools across the UK to install outdoor gyms from our Children's Range. We know that, to be successful in the long term, exercise needs to be enjoyable and research shows that children really enjoy using our gyms, from the very sporty to those who would normally shy away from organised physical activity. In fact having previously asking them, we know that 96% of kids who have had our equipment installed believe that having an outdoor gym makes their school a better place to be.  

We have also worked with many secondary schools, and again, the feedback has been incredibly positive. And of course all children aged 11 or over have easy access our outdoor gyms in their local park, with no membership fees or opening times. To find out just how popular they are with children, why not read some of our case studies.

Or, if you'd like further information, please contact us today via email or by calling 01483 608860, one of our friendly team would love to help.

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