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Frontpage News 2012 Improving treatment of child obesity in Poland

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Improving treatment of child obesity in Poland

  • The EEA Grants finance research at the Children’s Memorial Health Institute on blood pressure levels in young Poles in order to improve diagnosis and treatment of diseases linked to an unhealthy lifestyle.

    Over the course of the past 2 years, the Children’s Memorial Health Institute in the Polish capital of Warszawa examined the physical health of 17,500 Polish children and adolescents. Statistics from the participating children and youth, aged 6 to 18, will provide Polish medical personnel with a reference range that will make it easier to determine a proper diagnosis and undertake effective preventive and treatments of childhood obesity. The increased number of overweight children and youths has increased the importance of such growth charts.  

    Earlier detection of high blood pressure
    After measuring the children’s height, weight, blood pressure and pulse rate, the results of the children characterised as healthy have been used to develop a reference range for arterial blood pressure in the form of graphs showing average measurements of height, weight and, in addition, body mass index (BMI) compared with age and sex.

    “Blood pressure reference ranges enable early detection of increased blood pressure during childhood and adolescence. This is crucial to undertake interventions to normalise blood pressure in order to prevent future risk of cardiovascular disease”, said project manager Dr. Zbigniew Kulaga.

    Enabled international comparison
    Growth is an important indicator of health, and growth references can also be used as a public health tool to summarise and compare the growth among groups of children. 

    The Children’s Memorial Health Institute has also aimed at determining the rate of overweight and obesity among Polish children and adolescents. The results have been used to assess how well Polish children and youths match with or diverge from regional and international growth references. These comparisons resulted in some interesting findings:

    • Polish children aged 14 years and younger are equally tall or taller than their German peers. Polish children are also taller than their American peers.
    • Polish youth aged 14 to 18 are shorter than German adolescents.
    • Polish girls over the age of 9 have a lower BMI than their US counterparts.
    • Polish boys under the age of 13 have a higher BMI than German boys. The opposite is true for boys over the age of 14. 

    Health workshop
    The project has also involved the organisation of a 3-day long workshop for some of the participating children from more rural areas. “We educated children on healthy eating, healthy food preferences, and the importance of physical activity. During the stay at our Institute, we encouraged children to undertake physical activity at our new playground,” Dr. Kulaga said.

    Photo: Children being taught about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The picture is taken by the Children's Memorial Health Institute.

  • Country:


    Project title:

    Elaboration of the reference range of arterial blood pressure for the population of children and adolescents in Poland.

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Academic research



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual project

    Project duration:

    27 months

    Project cost:

    € 708,757

    Grant rate:


    Grant agreement date:

    18 June 2007

    The purpose of the Project is to obtain new knowledge about arterial blood pressure reference ranges for the population of Polish children and adolescents, with the overall objective of improving their health status by initiating rational observation of blood pressure. Reference is made to the application, dated 15 November 2005 and subsequent correspondence with the Focal Point dated 20 September 2006, 6 February 2007 and 23 February 2007.

    The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:

    - purchase of equipment, materials and software (oscillometric blood pressure devices, scales, height measuring devices, fat fold calipers, stethoscopes, computer and software, copying machine, printers, projector);

    - selection and training of research teams;

    - physical examinations of youth;

    - preparation of database for study results;

    - one seminar, elaborating reference ranges in the form of percentage charts of arterial blood pressure;

    - enabling evaluation of the results of preventive care for children;

    - determination of the prevalence of overweight and obesity.

    The Project Promoter is the Children Memorial Health Institute (CMHI).

    The Focal Point shall ensure that the Polish Ministry of Education and Science provides at least 15 percent of the estimated eligible Project costs.