Amsterdam child obesity slashed 16 pct. in two years

(Photo: Ranveig/Dodo / Wikimedia Commons)(Photo: Ranveig/Dodo / Wikimedia Commons)

Only two years after Amsterdam started its new approach to healthy weight, the first results show that there has been a decrease of 16 percent in five year old children with obesity, the municipality of Amsterdam announced in a press release today.

The Approach to Healthy Weight campaign started in 2012. The approach focuses on a broad range from projects in the fields of healthcare, school and sports to science. It is a city wide approach with a number of key focus areas.

New figures from the Public Health Service show that a trend is emerging of children that have a healthy weight. The number of overweight five year olds is even decreasing among Moroccan children, which belong to a group with the highest number of weight problems in the city. In 2011 there were 386 overweight Moroccan five year olds in the city. Two years later that number has decreased to 321.

According to the municipality, the urgency of the problem remains high despite the positive results. One in five Amsterdam children are overweight. That is a total of 30 thousand overweight children in the city - 2,300 of them are even morbidly obese.

"Amsterdam does not look away, but takes responsibility." Alderman Eric van den Burg said. "This is also the reason that the college has allocated 2.5 million euros to the approach to healthy weight. The problem is to a large extent in the field of knowledge. Parents and children often do not make the conscious choice. The approach to healthy weight gives information about nutrition but also cooks with parents in the neighborhoods to raise awareness about healthy eating."

The college of mayor and aldermen agreed on the program plan 2015 - 2018 this week. The new program plan will focus more on pregnant women, very young children and low educated mothers as more and more scientific findings clearly show that the first thousand days of a child's life has a great influence on the development of the child's weight and risk of obesity in later life.