A Snapshot of European Children's Eating Habits: Results from the Fourth Round of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI)

Nutrients. 2020 Aug 17;12(8):2481. doi: 10.3390/nu12082481.


Consuming a healthy diet in childhood helps to protect against malnutrition and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). This cross-sectional study described the diets of 132,489 children aged six to nine years from 23 countries participating in round four (2015-2017) of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI). Children's parents or caregivers were asked to complete a questionnaire that contained indicators of energy-balance-related behaviors (including diet). For each country, we calculated the percentage of children who consumed breakfast, fruit, vegetables, sweet snacks or soft drinks "every day", "most days (four to six days per week)", "some days (one to three days per week)", or "never or less than once a week". We reported these results stratified by country, sex, and region. On a daily basis, most children (78.5%) consumed breakfast, fewer than half (42.5%) consumed fruit, fewer than a quarter (22.6%) consumed fresh vegetables, and around one in ten consumed sweet snacks or soft drinks (10.3% and 9.4%, respectively); however, there were large between-country differences. This paper highlights an urgent need to create healthier food and drink environments, reinforce health systems to promote healthy diets, and continue to support child nutrition and obesity surveillance.

Keywords: child; children; fruit; health; noncommunicable diseases; nutrition; obesity; soft drinks; surveillance; vegetables.

MeSH terms

  • Breakfast
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control*
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Parents*
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Snacks
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables
  • World Health Organization*