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Annita Kobes: What is the best way to prevent childhood obesity?

What is the best way to prevent childhood obesity?

Obesity is one of the most serious and complex global health problems of the 21st century. Not only among adults, but also among children we see more and more cases of severe obesity. To motivate children to adopt a healthier lifestyle, many initiatives are being taken: at the macro level, several countries are introducing a sugar tax that increases the prices of sugary (soft) drinks; at the meso level, municipalities are implementing lifestyle interventions that usually involve schools and sometimes entire neighbourhoods; and at the micro level, help is provided to individual children and their parents.

Annita Kobes

Despite all these initiatives, the question arises whether this is enough: research has shown that a 2-year-old who is overweight has an almost 80% chance of being obese at the age of 35. Is it possible to intervene before a child turns 2 years old? The answer to that question is: yes!

A growing number of interventions focus on the first 1000 days: the moment from conception to the second year of life. We know that there are a number of factors that influence obesity: if a mother gains a lot of weight during her pregnancy, or if the child is born with a high birth weight, there is a greater chance of becoming overweight. We do not yet know whether interventions aimed at the first 1000 days are the missing pieces of the puzzle for solving the obesity problem, but we do know now that intervening when a child is a few years old is sometimes already too late.

dr. A. (Annita) Kobes
First name
Annita
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Policy advisor
Last modified:19 April 2021 4.23 p.m.
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