Methodology and implementation of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI)

João Breda, Karen McColl, Marta Buoncristiano, Julianne Williams, Shynar Abdrakhmanova, Zulfiya Abdurrahmonova, Wolfgang Ahrens, Dilorom Akhmedova, Márta Bakacs, Jolanda M.A. Boer, Khadichamo Boymatova, Lacramioara Aurelia Brinduse, Alexandra Cucu, Vesselka Duleva, Ronit Endevelt, Victoria Farrugia Sant'Angelo, Anna Fijałkowska, Aida Filipović Hadžiomeragić, Marta García-Solano, Else Karin GrøholtAndrea Gualtieri, Maria Hassapidou, Tatjana Hejgaard, Jolanda Hyska, Cecily C. Kelleher, Enisa Kujundžić, Päivi Mäki, Eliza Markidou Ioannidou, Marina Melkumova, Isabelle Moyersoen, Sanja Musić Milanović, Eha Nurk, Sergej M. Ostojic, Valentina Peterkova, Aušra Petrauskienė, Iveta Pudule, Ana Isabel Rito, Kenisha Russell Jonsson, Harry Rutter, Benoît Salanave, Nabil Seyidov, Lela Shengelia, Natalia Silitrari, Angela Spinelli, Igor Spiroski, Gregor Starc, Dragana Stojisavljević, Maya Tanrygulyyeva, Ľubica Tichá, Zhamilya Usupova, Daniel Weghuber, Nazan Yardim, Hana Zamrazilová, Vladyslav Zbanatskyi, Francesco Branca, Martin Weber, Ivo Rakovac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Establishment of the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) has resulted in a surveillance system which provides regular, reliable, timely, and accurate data on children's weight status—through standardized measurement of bodyweight and height—in the WHO European Region. Additional data on dietary intake, physical activity, sedentary behavior, family background, and school environments are collected in several countries. In total, 45 countries in the European Region have participated in COSI. The first five data collection rounds, between 2007 and 2021, yielded measured anthropometric data on over 1.3 million children. In COSI, data are collected according to a common protocol, using standardized instruments and procedures. The systematic collection and analysis of these data enables intercountry comparisons and reveals differences in the prevalence of childhood thinness, overweight, normal weight, and obesity between and within populations. Furthermore, it facilitates investigation of the relationship between overweight, obesity, and potential risk or protective factors and improves the understanding of the development of overweight and obesity in European primary-school children in order to support appropriate and effective policy responses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13215
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue numberS6
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support through a grant from the Russian Government in the context of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of NCDs. The ministries of health of Austria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Malta, Norway, and the Russian Federation provided financial support for the meetings at which the protocol, data collection procedures, and analyses were discussed. Data collection in countries was made possible through funding from the following: Albania: WHO through the Joint Programme on Children, Food Security and Nutrition “Reducing Malnutrition in Children,” funded by the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund, and the Institute of Public Health. Austria: Federal Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection of Austria. Bulgaria: Ministry of Health, National Center of Public Health and Analyses, and WHO Regional Office for Europe. Bosnia and Herzegovina: WHO country office support for training and data management. Croatia: Ministry of Health, Croatian Institute of Public Health, and WHO Regional Office for Europe. Czechia: Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic, grant number 17‐31670A and MZCR—RVO EU 00023761. Denmark: Danish Ministry of Health. Estonia: Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education and Research (IUT 42‐2), WHO Country Office, and National Institute for Health Development. Finland: Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. France: Santé publique France (the French Agency for Public Health). Georgia: WHO. Greece: International Hellenic University and Hellenic Medical Association for Obesity. Hungary: WHO Country Office for Hungary. Ireland: Health Service Executive. Italy: Ministry of Health. Kazakhstan: Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, WHO, and UNICEF. Kyrgyzstan: World Health Organization. Latvia: Ministry of Health and Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Lithuania: Science Foundation of Lithuanian University of Health Sciences and Lithuanian Science Council and WHO. Malta: Ministry of Health. Montenegro: WHO and Institute of Public Health of Montenegro. North Macedonia: Government of North Macedonia through National Annual Program of Public Health and implemented by the Institute of Public Health and Centers of Public Health; WHO country office provides support for training and data management. Norway: the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Norwegian Directorate of Health, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Poland: National Health Programme, Ministry of Health. Portugal: Ministry of Health Institutions, the National Institute of Health, Directorate General of Health, Regional Health Directorates, and the kind technical support from the Center for Studies and Research on Social Dynamics and Health (CEIDSS). Romania: Ministry of Health. Russian Federation: WHO. San Marino: Health Ministry, Educational Ministry, and Social Security Institute and Health Authority. Serbia: WHO and the WHO Country Office (2015‐540940 and 2018/873491‐0). Slovakia: Biennial Collaborative Agreement between WHO Regional Office for Europe and Ministry of Health SR. Slovenia: Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia within the SLOfit surveillance system. Spain: Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition. Sweden: Public Health Agency of Sweden. Tajikistan: WHO Country Office in Tajikistan and Ministry of Health and Social Protection. Turkmenistan: WHO Country Office in Turkmenistan and Ministry of Health. Turkey: Turkish Ministry of Health and World Bank.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 World Obesity Federation. The World Health Organization retains copyright and all other rights in the manuscript of this article as submitted for publication.


  • children
  • methodology
  • obesity
  • surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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