Obesity among young people in Europe

This week the World Health Organization released a report on the health and well-being of young people in Europe from 2002 to 2014.

The report uses data from the Health Behaviour in School aged Children (HBSC) Study. HBSC monitors health behaviours, health outcome and social environments of children aged 11, 12 and 15 years old. Data is collected in over 40 countries around Europe, including in the Republic of Ireland. Data is collected every 4 years.

Main findings from the report include:

Eating habits

  • Overall daily consumption of fruits and vegetables increased slightly (3%) since 2002.
  • In 2014 38% of young people consumed fruit daily, while 3% reported never eating fruit.
  • In 2014 36% of young people eat vegetables daily. 5% reported never eating vegetables.
  • Young people from more affluent backgrounds reported a 10% higher fruit and vegetable consumption compared to young people from lower affluence families.
  • Sugary drinks consumption reduced by 10% across Europe during 2002 to 2014.
  • In 2014 19% of young people reported drinking sugary drinks daily. Those from a higher affluence background reported consuming less sugary drinks in comparison to those from a lower affluence family.
  • In 2014 26% of young people reported consuming sweets daily. Girls reported a higher sweet intake in comparison to boys.


  • Obesity was more common in young people from lower affluence families across the study period compared to young people from higher affluence families.

Physical activity and sedentary behaviour

  • Physical activity levels are low across Europe and decline with age.
  • In 2014, only 25% of boys and 15% of girls achieved the recommended amount of physical activity daily.
  • There was no change in the amount of young people meeting the physical activity guidelines during 2002 to 2014.
  • Young people spend 60% of waking time sitting down.

Overall the data shows some slight improvements in health related behaviours. These improvements disproportionately benefit people from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds show less improvements in health related behaviours.


Posted: 18/05/2017 10:42:39 by Anne Parle
Filed under: Childhood obesity, HBSC, Physical activity, Socioeconomic status, Sugary drinks, Sweets, Treat foods


Nutrition News RSS feed