EASO was pleased to hold the 2019 Collaborating Centres for Obesity Management (COMs) Summit in Gdansk Poland. Over 100 colleagues across Europe and beyond joined us 10-11 October for an excellent clinical and scientific programme, led by a top invited faculty. The programme was developed to improve knowledge and understanding of the latest in obesity management and to support clinical practice. Here we speak with Paulina Metelska, our local host in Gdansk.
Paulina, can you share an overview of obesity in Poland?
Overweight and obesity are public health challenges of growing importance in Poland. While the self-reported obesity rate in Poland, at 15.8% in adults (2009 data), is close to the OECD average of 15.5% (2006-2013 data), the prevalence has been increasing during the past 20 years (11.4% of adults had obesity in 1996; OECD, 2015). The fastest increase has been observed in children and adolescents. Some studies show that 22% of elementary school children are currently (2013) overweight or have obesity (IZZ, undated), compared with no more than 15% in 1990 (WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2012). This is among the most rapid increases in Europe (UNICEF Office of Research, 2013).
Recent data from representative studies (WOBASZ) show an increase in the prevalence of both obesity and overweight in all adult age groups and among both genders. In the years 2013–2014, the age-standardized prevalence of obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2) was 24.4% in men and 25.0% in women while it was 20.0% and 22.3% respectively in 2003-2005.
Recent data from European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) study conducted in Poland in 2016, show that the overweight was present in 32,4% of 8-year-old boys and 29.1% of 8-year-old girls (based on WHO 2007 cut-off points). Another data point from Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study performed in Poland in 2014, show that overweight and obesity was present in 20,5% of 11-year-old boys and 15,1% of 11-year-old girls, 18,8% of 13-year-old boys and 10,1% of 13-year-old girls.
What is being done in Poland to address obesity, particularly among young people?
The “6-10-14 for Health” is the first comprehensive health programme implemented in Poland, focused on long-term health behaviour change both among children with obesity and their families. Target groups are children in Gdansk, aged 6, 9-11 and 14 years, their parents and the school environment – a total of about twenty thousand students and parents and the staff of 90 educational institutions in Gdansk. This programme is funded entirely by the City of Gdańsk.
Programme participants and patients receive care from an interdisciplinary team of specialists including a paediatrician, dietitian, specialist in physical activity and a psychologist. Approximately 400-450 new patients join the programme every year. The 6-10-14 for Health programme is implemented at the University Medical Center. This is the largest and most modern hospital in northern Poland. The University Clinical Center also has an accredited adult obesity treatment center (COMs).
Paulina, what is your role?
I am the coordinator of the “6-10-14 for Health” Programme. I manage the centre on a daily basis. I am responsible for the accurate and appropriate implementation of processes, ongoing settlements and reporting. I am also a dietitian working within an interdisciplinary team and am pleased to work directly with our patients.
How was it to host the COMs Summit?
The organisation of the EASO COMS meeting was a great challenge but also a real pleasure. I enjoyed working with Euan and Marco; they are very professional and kind. I am very happy that we could host so many representatives of COMS in Gdańsk. I am really pleased that the meeting was so successful and the delegates not only had an excellent curriculum and programme but also had an opportunity to know Gdańsk. I hope that participants will return to Gdansk for both professional and touristic purposes.