Algarve is the region of the country where there are fewer obese and pre-obese children

Says the ARS: «these results reflect the work developed over the last few years through a holistic approach to the problem of childhood obesity in the Algarve»

The Algarve is the region of the country with the lowest prevalence of overweight (obesity and pre-obesity) in children (21,8%) and the highest rate of breastfeeding (92,1%), as well as the highest percentage of Schools with Food Education content in the school curriculum (100%), according to the most recent data from the study of the European Child Nutrition Surveillance System of the World Health Organization (European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative), COSI Portugal.

These comparative data on childhood obesity in Portugal were presented at the Conference of the WHO Collaborative Center on Child Nutrition and Obesity that took place on Tuesday, October 19, at the Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute (INSA) in Lisbon.

COSI Portugal is a child nutrition surveillance system, integrated in the study Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative of the World Health Organization for Europe (COSI/WHO Europe), and its main objective is to create a systematic network for the collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination of descriptive information on the characteristics of the nutritional status of school-age children in the 1st cycle of Basic Education, from 6 to 8 years old.

This system produces comparable data across European countries and allows monitoring of childhood obesity every 2-3 years.

The first phase of data collection took place in the 2007/2008 school year, with 13 countries participating. Currently, COSI/WHO Europe has 44 countries registered.


COSI Portugal 2019 shows that in the period between 2008 and 2019, all Portuguese regions showed a decrease in the prevalence of overweight (including obesity), with the Algarve being the region at national level that, since 2008, has maintained the greatest trend of containment in the evolution of childhood obesity.

In the Algarve, 518 children from 16 schools in rural and urban areas were randomly selected and evaluated.

Anthropometric assessment was with measurement of weight and height. From the weight and height data, the Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated.

Three diagnostic criteria were used for the classification of nutritional status: the International Obesity Task Force (IOFT) criteria, the criteria of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the WHO criteria.

In the COSI Portugal 2019 report, important data about the lifestyle characteristics of the children participating in the study are also provided.

In relation to the Algarve, the fact that this is the region with the highest breastfeeding rate stands out, with 92,1%. This makes the Algarve the region of the country where there was a higher percentage of children who were exclusively breastfed for a period equal to or greater than 6 months (25,7%) and also the one with a higher percentage of children who were breastfed in a period longer than 6 months (47,9%).

On the other hand, with regard to the offer of Food Education content or projects in the curriculum of schools, it was found that all schools offer these programs.


According to the Algarve Regional Health Administration (ARS), «these results reflect the work developed over the last few years through a holistic approach to the problem of childhood obesity in the Algarve, with the implementation of transversal health policies and strategies, at the level of regional and local institutions, based on a methodology of community, intersectoral and multidisciplinary intervention, centered on the family as the cell of the social fabric».

Therefore, ARS Algarve emphasizes «the importance of continuing this joint work of promoting healthy lifestyles to maintain or reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity in the region».

COSI Portugal is scientifically coordinated and led by the National Institute of Health Doctor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) in conjunction with the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) and implemented at regional level by the Regional Health Administrations (ARS) of Lisbon and Vale do Tejo , Alentejo, Algarve, Center and North and also with the Regional Directorate of Health (DRS) of the Azores and Madeira (IASaúde, IP-RAM), specifically by the Institute of Health Administration and Social Affairs.

The Center for Studies and Research in Social Dynamics and Health (CEIDSS) provides technical and scientific support to the COSI Portugal study.