European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 177, Issue 6, pp 945–953 | Cite as

Prevalence of overweight/obesity among 7-year-old children—WHO Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative in Slovakia, trends and differences between selected European countries

  • Ľubica Tichá
  • Valéria Regecová
  • Katarína Šebeková
  • Darina Sedláková
  • Jana Hamade
  • Ľudmila Podracká
Original Article


The objectives of this study were (1) to assess the prevalence and time trends of overweight/obesity in Slovak children by applying WHO, IOTF, and the national criteria; (2) to compare the prevalence between selected European countries; and (3) to evaluate the central obesity by the waist-to-height ratio. The survey was performed within the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative. The weight, height, waist, and hip were measured in 2795 children at the age of 7–7.99 years (50.1% boys; 55.5% in rural areas). The prevalence of overweight/obesity was determined using the LMS Growth. In boys, the prevalence of overweight/obesity was 17.1/14.9% according to WHO, 13.8/8.8% according to IOTF, and 9.9/8.8% according to the national criteria. Among girls, the prevalence reached 15.1/11.1%, 12.6/8.1%, and 7.5/9.5%, respectively. These rates corresponded to the average of the European countries. Central obesity was identified in 76.9% of overweight/obese, but also in 5.9% normal-weight subjects.

Conclusion: While overweight has increased by 3% the prevalence of obesity has doubled since 2001. The rise culminated approximately 6 years ago and has not increased since then. The body constitution differences should be considered when comparing the prevalence of overweight/obesity between populations and/or individuals.

What is Known:

• Knowledge of the prevalence of overweight/obesity is seminal for effective implementation of programs focusing on the reduction of incidence and prevalence of obesity in early childhood.

What is New:

• The most numerous and representative study on the prevalence of overweight/obesity in 7-year-old children involving 2795 (5%) of peers living in Slovakia.

• The prevalence of obesity in Slovakia falls within the range of average rate of the European countries. Central obesity was identified in almost 20% subjects.


Overweight/obesity Children Prevalence and trends in European countries 



Body mass index


Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative


International Obesity Task Force


National Anthropometric Survey


Public Health Authorities


Standard deviation


Waist-to-height ratio


World Health Organization



We would like to thank to the European WHO groups: João Breda, Villas Liza Jane, Jelena Jakovljevic, Gerben Rienk, Marta Buoncristiano for their help in implementation of the COSI study; the national team of the Public Health Authorities for measurement of children; and Ivana Mesarosova and Petra Vadovicova for their help in the data collection.

Authors’ contributions

Ľubica Tichá - 40%, Valéria Regecová - 25%, Katarína Šebeková - 20%, Darina Sedláková - 5%, Jana Hamade -5%, Ľudmila Podracká - 5%


The study was supported by the World Health Organization, by the Ministry of Health of Slovak Republic, by the Public Health Authorities, and Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic (VEGA no. 2/0160/17, no. 2/0190/17, no. 2/0148/17) and the Slovak Research and Development Agency (grant no. APVV-16-0263).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Darina Sedláková is an employee of the World Health Organization, Jana Hamade is an employee of the Public Health Authorities, and participation of Ľubica Tichá at the fourth round COSI kick-off meetings was sponsored by WHO. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. The funding organizations played no role in the analysis and interpretation of data, in writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to submit it for publication.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the parents/caregivers of all participating children.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and later amendments thereto or the comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Children’s Diseases and Faculty of Medicine of Comenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Institute of Normal and Pathological PhysiologySlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Institute of Molecular BiomedicineFaculty of Medicine of Comenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  4. 4.WHO Country Office in SlovakiaBratislavaSlovakia
  5. 5.Public Health Authority of the Slovak RepublicBratislavaSlovakia

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