Groningen Expert Center for Kids with Obesity (GECKO)

Groningen Expert Center for Kids with Obesity (GECKO)

Study of the early determinants of childhood obesity Cohort
Study of the early determinants of childhood obesity
GECKO Drenthe is a population-based birth-cohort study of approximately 3,000 children born in Drenthe, one of the northern provinces of the Netherlands.

GECKO started in 2006 and aims to identify behavioural, social, environmental, and genetic risk factors for childhood obesity. In 2006, the Groningen Expert Center for Kids with Obesity (GECKO) started studying the development of childhood overweight.

GECKO Drenthe aims to: 

  • identify determinants of childhood obesity; 
  • identify factors that contribute to the development of childhood obesity; 
  • observe the role of parents in the development; 
  • identify the role of genes and early programming in child health and growth; 
  • observe the contribution of physical activity and nutrition to the development of obesity. 
  • All children with a congenital anomaly (including pregnancy terminations and miscarriages), reported before the reference date of March 10, 2022 and born before January 1st, 2021, were included. The report is limited to this period because cases born in 2021 are still in the registration process and data is not yet complete. Registration is an ongoing process; children can be registered until 10 years after birth. 

    Requirements of GECKO Drenthe:

    • at the time of birth, the mother lived in one of the three Northern provinces Groningen, Friesland or Drenthe;
    • the child was diagnosed with at least one major congenital anomaly, according to international criteria; 
    • the parents gave written informed consent to register their child with Eurocat; 
    • children born in 2010 or later, whose parents were non-responders. 

    It should be noted that changes in numbers of reported anomalies can be due to changes in quality management or new information. For instance, in recent years a better distinction could be made between minor and major anomalies due to changes of the registry software. Minor anomalies are not included in the prevalence estimates. In addition, anomalies such as metabolic and hematologic disorders have been excluded from registration since 2011 because they did not contribute to the goals of Eurocat. 

  • During the pregnancy

    Paternal and maternal data are collected regarding their reproductive and medical history, social structures, lifestyle, diet, and smoking behaviour before and during pregnancy. Clinical data regarding the pregnancy and delivery were collected from obstetricians, midwives, and general practitioners. 

    After birth

    The child's birth is the start of collecting more information. The parents have to answer questionnaires about lifestyle, dietary behaviour, physical activity, biological factors, social factors, environmental influences, and illnesses. 

    Youth healthcare practitioners use anthropometry measurements to provide data regarding weight, height, head, hip and waist circumference, and blood pressure. 

    Additional measurements could involve urine samples, blood samples, GWAS, methylation analyses of cord blood, and physical activity measured with accelerometers. 

  • Within GECKO, we work together with other organisations, such as: 

    • Drenthe Gezond
    • LifeCycle Project
    • PACE
    • ABCD study
    • My Little Moves
    • Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
    • Praatplaten samen met Jong Leren Eten
    • CHICOS
    • NCD-RisC

  • Please visit GECKO Drenthe - Onderzoek naar overgewicht bij kinderen for more information about patient participation (in Dutch).

Following 2500 childeren in Drenthe: why some become overweight and others don't

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How GECKO benefits to society

The GECKO Drenthe cohort has been designed to examine the behavioural, social, environmental, and genetic risk factors for childhood obesity. Our study is a population-based birth-cohort study of children born between April 2006 and April 2007. A total of 5,326 infants were born during this period. GECKO Drenthe includes a total of 2,842 children. They are being followed from birth to adulthood. 


Eva Corpeleijn
Eva Corpeleijn Associate Professor, Senior Researcher

University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)
PO Box 30.001
9700 RB Groningen
The Netherlands

Visiting address
University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)
Antonius Deusinglaan 1
9713 AV Groningen

More information visite our website