Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Assessing, understanding and modifying nutritional status, eating habits and physical activity in European adolescents: The HELENA (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence) Study

LA Morenoa1 c1, M González-Grossa2a3, M Kerstinga4, D Molnára5, S de Henauwa6, L Beghina7, M Sjöströma8, M Hagströmera8, Y Maniosa9, CC Gilberta10, FB Ortegaa11, J Dallongevillea12, D Arcellaa13, J Wärnberga8a14, M Hallberga15, H Fredrikssona16, L Maesa6, K Widhalma17, AG Kafatosa18 and A Marcosa14 on behalf of the HELENA Study Group

a1 Escuela Universitaria de Ciencias de la Salud, Domingo Miral s/n, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain

a2 Facultad de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

a3 Institut für Ernährungs- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhemls Universität Bonn, Bonn, Germany

a4 Research Institute of Child Nutrition Dortmund, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Dortmund, Germany

a5 University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary

a6 Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

a7 EA-3925 and CIC-9301, Université de Lille 2, Lille, France

a8 Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden

a9 Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece

a10 Department of Consumer and Sensory Sciences, Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association, Chipping Campden, UK

a11 Departamento de Fisiología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain

a12 Institut Pasteur de Lille, Lille, France

a13 INRAN – National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition, Rome, Italy

a14 Grupo Inmunonutrición, Departamento de Metabolismo y Nutrición, Instituto del Frio, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain

a15 Cederroth International AB, Sweden

a16 Cerealia R&D AB, Sweden

a17 Department of Pediatrics, Division of Clinical Nutrition and Prevention, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

a18 Preventive Medicine & Nutrition Unit, University of Crete School of Medicine, Heraklion, Crete, Greece


Objectives To identify the main knowledge gaps and to propose research lines that will be developed within the European Union-funded ‘Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence’ (HELENA) project, concerning the nutritional status, physical fitness and physical activity of adolescents in Europe.

Design Review of the currently existing literature.

Results The main gaps identified were: lack of harmonised and comparable data on food intake; lack of understanding regarding the role of eating attitudes, food choices and food preferences; lack of harmonised and comparable data on levels and patterns of physical activity and physical fitness; lack of comparable data about obesity prevalence and body composition; lack of comparable data about micronutrient and immunological status; and lack of effective intervention methodologies for healthier lifestyles.

Conclusions The HELENA Study Group should develop, test and describe harmonised and state-of-the-art methods to assess the nutritional status and lifestyle of adolescents across Europe; develop and evaluate an intervention on eating habits and physical activity; and develop and test new healthy food products attractive for European adolescents.

(Received October 31 2006)

(Accepted April 03 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Email


† See Appendix for a full list of the HELENA Study Group members.