Science & Technology in childhood Obesity Policy (STOP)

Principal Investigator: Professor Franco Sassi

Funder: European Commission (H2020 SC2)

Duration: June 2018 – November 2022


The STOP project has brought together a range of key health and food sector actors to generate scientifically sound and policy-relevant evidence on the factors that have contributed to the spread of childhood obesity in European Countries. Over the course of four years the European Commission-funded collaborative will posit alternative policy options to address the problem.

The research will expand and consolidate the multidisciplinary evidence base upon which effective and sustainable policies can be built to prevent and manage childhood obesity. STOP also aims at creating the conditions for evidence to translate into policy and for policy to translate into impacts on the ground.

The primary focus of STOP is on the cumulative impacts of multiple and synergistic exposures in vulnerable and socially disadvantaged children and their families, which must be a priority target for the fight against childhood obesity in Europe to reach a tipping point and succeed. STOP will identify critical stages in childhood (starting from prenatal exposures) at which interventions can be most effective and efficient.

Major health and food sector actors, including scientists, health professionals, government policy makers, national public health agencies, international organisations, civil society and business organisations are working together to establish mechanisms through which policy-relevant evidence can be generated, made available and used in the design and implementation of effective and sustainable solutions for the childhood obesity problem at the EU, National and local levels. The project has adopted a trans-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral (whole-of-government) approach, in a “Health-in-all-policies” framework. In the pursuit of the above goals, the project will benefit from the support and contributions of partners from non-European countries (United States and New Zealand), who will complement the expertise of European partners and share valuable experiences in addressing childhood obesity.


Alfano R, Chadeau-Hyam M, Ghantous A, Keski-Rahkonen P, Chatzi L, Perez AE, Herceg Z, Kogevinas M, de Kok TM, Nawrot TS, Novoloaca A. A multi-omic analysis of birthweight in newborn cord blood reveals new underlying mechanisms related to cholesterol metabolism. Metabolism. 2020 Sep 1;110:154292.


Alfano R, Plusquin M, Robinson O, Brescianini S, Chatzi L, Keski-Rahkonen P, Handakas E, Maitre L, Nawrot T, Robinot N, Roumeliotaki T. Cord blood metabolites and rapid postnatal growth as multiple mediators in the prenatal propensity to childhood overweight. International Journal of Obesity. 2022 Jul;46(7):1384-93.


Alfano R, Robinson O, Handakas E, Nawrot TS, Vineis P, Plusquin M. Perspectives and challenges of epigenetic determinants of childhood obesity: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews. 2022 Jan;23:e13389.


Branca F, Chambers T, Sassi F. How to tackle childhood obesity? Evidence and policy implications from a STOP series of systematic reviews. Obesity Reviews. 2021 Feb;22(2):e13181.


Cox B, Luyten LJ, Dockx Y, Provost E, Madhloum N, De Boever P, Neven KY, Sassi F, Sleurs H, Vrijens K, Vineis P. Association between maternal prepregnancy body mass index and anthropometric parameters, blood pressure, and retinal microvasculature in children age 4 to 6 years. JAMA Network Open. 2020 May 1;3(5):e204662.


Fernández-Barrés S, Robinson O, Fossati S, Márquez S, Basagana X, de Bont J, de Castro M, Donaire-Gonzalez D, Maitre L, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Romaguera D. Urban environment and health behaviours in children from six European countries. Environment International. 2022 Jul 1;165:107319.


Gressier M, Sassi F, Frost G. Healthy foods and healthy diets. How government policies can steer food reformulation. Nutrients. 2020 Jul 4;12(7):1992.


Gressier M, Swinburn B, Frost G, Segal AB, Sassi F. What is the impact of food reformulation on individuals' behaviour, nutrient intakes and health status? A systematic review of empirical evidence. Obesity Reviews. 2021 Feb;22(2):e13139.


Handakas E, Chang K, Khandpur N, Vamos EP, Millett C, Sassi F, Vineis P, Robinson O. Metabolic profiles of ultra-processed food consumption and their role in obesity risk in British children. Clinical Nutrition. 2022 Nov 1;41(11):2537-48.


Handakas E, Keski-Rahkonen P, Chatzi L, Alfano R, Roumeliotaki T, Plusquin M, Maitre L, Richiardi L, Brescianini S, Scalbert A, Robinot N. Cord blood metabolic signatures predictive of childhood overweight and rapid growth. International Journal of Obesity. 2021 Oct;45(10):2252-60.


Handakas E, Lau CH, Alfano R, Chatzi VL, Plusquin M, Vineis P, Robinson O. A systematic review of metabolomic studies of childhood obesity: State of the evidence for metabolic determinants and consequences. Obesity Reviews. 2022 Jan;23:e13384.


Malacarne D, Handakas E, Robinson O, Pineda E, Saez M, Chatzi L, Fecht D. The built environment as determinant of childhood obesity: A systematic literature review. Obesity Reviews. 2022 Jan;23:e13385.


Martinez JA, Sassi F, Moreno LA, Tur JA. Position guidelines and evidence base concerning determinants of childhood obesity with a European perspective. Obesity Reviews. 2022 Jan;23:e13391.


Pineda E, Poelman MP, Aaspõllu A, Bica M, Bouzas C, Carrano E, De Miguel-Etayo P, Djojosoeparto S, Blenkuš MG, Graca P, Geffert K. Policy implementation and priorities to create healthy food environments using the Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI): A pooled level analysis across eleven European countries. The Lancet Regional Health-Europe. 2022 Dec 1;23:100522.


Reimann B, Janssen BG, Alfano R, Ghantous A, Espín-Pérez A, De Kok TM, Saenen ND, Cox B, Robinson O, Chadeau-Hyam M, Penders J. The cord blood insulin and mitochondrial DNA content related Methylome. Frontiers in Genetics. 2019 Apr 12;10:325.


Rodriguez-Martinez A, Zhou B, Sophiea MK, Bentham J, Paciorek CJ, Iurilli ML, Carrillo-Larco RM, Bennett JE, Di Cesare M, Taddei C, Bixby H. Height and body-mass index trajectories of school-aged children and adolescents from 1985 to 2019 in 200 countries and territories: a pooled analysis of 2181 population-based studies with 65 million participants. The Lancet. 2020 Nov 7;396(10261):1511-24.


Stratakis N, Rock S, La Merrill MA, Saez M, Robinson O, Fecht D, Vrijheid M, Valvi D, Conti DV, McConnell R, Chatzi VL. Prenatal exposure to persistent organic pollutants and childhood obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis of human studies. Obesity Reviews. 2022 Jan 1;23:e13383.


Van Dam I, Guillon E, Robinson E, Allais O, Sacks G, Vandevijvere S. Assessment of the Commitments and Performance of the European Food Industry to Improve Population Nutrition. International Journal of Public Health. 2022:99.


Zaçe D, Di Pilla A, Silano M, Carini E, Cacciatore P, Frisicale EM, Vandevijvere S, Franco S, Specchia ML. Implementation level of best practice policies by Italian Government for healthier food environments: Healthy Food Environment Policy Index (Food-EPI). Annali dell'Istituto Superiore di Sanita. 2022 Mar 11;58(1):55-66.


A complete list of STOP publications can be found at:

Work Packages & Description

WP1: Coordination & Management*

WP2: Measuring childhood Obesity*

WP3: Key determinants of Childhood Obesity*

WP4: Regulation & Fiscal Policies

WP5: Consumer Behaviour

WP6: Healthy food and food choice environments

WP7: Physical activity

WP8: Health care

WP9: Policy analysis methodology and knowledge translation

WP10: Multi-stakeholder action

WP11: Dissemination & exploitation


*Led by ICL