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EARNEST Research Team in Poland Act to Help Counterpart Rise of Childhood Obesity

With Poland recording one of the steepest rises in prevalence of childhood obesity in Europe in recent years (IOTF, 2005, 2007), expert teams from the Children’s Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw are contributing to one of the most exciting EC-funded research projects into the concept of early life nutritional programming.

On the occasion of a major meeting of the EARNEST research consortium in Kracow, Poland (24-26 September 2009), Professor Jerzy Socha, paediatrician and gastroenterologist and EARNEST Team Leader in Poland said: “What mothers eat in pregnancy and babies eat in first year of life is increasingly understood to have a major impact on increased susceptibility to obesity and other major life-limiting diseases, such as diabetes and heart problems. My team at the Children’s Memorial Health Institute is proud to be contributing to the internationally-acknowledged research programme work of EARNEST in following up cohorts of children to investigate the impact of infant formula feeding and its protein content versus breast-feeding.” In April 2006 WHO issued new growth charts that reflected the lower rate of growth in the first year of life of infants who are breast-fed. These new growth charts are gradually being adopted world-wide as the new ‘gold standard’ by governments, healthcare professionals and consumers. In Poland these new growth charts are in use by physicians but awareness among the public and in consumer publications remains low. Children of 6 years of age, part of the cohort from the CHOP study (Childhood Obesity Project) have been followed up in Poland with detailed body size and composition measurements taken and information on dietary and exercise habits carefully recorded. Samples have also been collected to identify genetic risk factors for obesity, with the Warsaw team also tasked with undertaking complex investigations into a number of factors including IGF-1, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose C-reactive protein. The work of the Poland team together with the results of EARNEST and CHOP investigations in Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain has been published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1). Further publications are in the pipeline. “Awareness of the importance of choices regarding infant feeding and the potential impact on childhood obesity and other life-long health issues is still poor in Poland,” Professor Socha continues. “Our EARNEST meeting in Kracow provides us with an opportunity to communicate with our Government, policy advisers, healthcare professionals and the public about the impact of obesity and life-long health and how it is being addressed right here in Poland for the benefit of all citizens.” The Polish team will be contributing to the EARNEST Project’s International Conference in Munich (6-8 May 2010) ‘The Power of Programming’ ( and will present the final results of their detailed biochemical analyses from the children’s cohort described above.


Sixth Framework Programme


Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom