Hungarian Success Story of EPODE
  • Obesity is a growing public health issue, which affects nearly 70 percent of adult and more than 20 percent of Hungarian child population. Number of obese children has tripled in Hungary in the last two decades.  To overcome the obesity epidemic the WHO recommends to improve one’s lifestyle by promoting healthy eating habits and physical activity in all socio-economical settings.
    The GYERE (“Children’s Health”) program aims to prevent childhood obesity in Dunaharaszti city by focusing on the behaviour of the whole family, changing its environment and community norms. The three-year pilot program was initiated by the Hungarian Dietetic Association in 2014 and implemented with co-operation from the Semmelweis University, Faculty of Health Sciences, the National Institution for Children’s Health and the State Secretariat of Health, in close collaboration with other local political and private partners like the municipality, schools and the healthcare system.
    The GYERE program adopted the EPODE four pillars approach (high level political engagement, sustainable resources, coordination and support services, scientific evidences to prove project efficacy) for early engagement with children and involvement of all stakeholders, including families and communities. To measure results anthropometric data was collected at baseline and at the end of the project. According to data of the baseline survey a considerable proportion (26.5%) of 6-12y children in Dunaharaszti was obese or overweight. Prevalence of obesity and overweight was the highest among 10y girls (30.6%) and also significant among 12y boys (26.8%). As part of the health education five thematic campaigns - fruits and vegetables, healthy hydration, protein sources, milk and dairy, grains - have been implemented so far.  Importance of being active has also been emphasized. The program is using various communication channels, e.g. in-class lectures, drawing and recipe competition, GYERE menu in school canteens, Facebook posts and educative articles, involving all the children below 18y and their families in the city.
    The GYERE pilot program in Dunaharaszti will end in 2017, aiming to reduce prevalence of obesity among the intervention group by at least 5 percent through significant improvement in lifestyle and health consciousness of the whole local community. In the meantime the Hungarian Dietetic Association already has started the second GYERE Program on the eastern and more disadvantaged region of the country in Szerencs.
    Zsuzsanna Szucs, Member, Executive Committee, Hungarian Dietetic Association
    Jolan Kubanyi, President, Hungarian Dietetic Association