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Europe faces obesity epidemic

Wednesday May 4th 2022

Obesity has reached "epidemic" proportions in Europe as a health problem, a report warns today.

The problem continues to escalate, according to a report from the World Health Organization, highlighting measures that could curb rising obesity rates in Europe.

The WHO Regional European Obesity Report 2022 was published yesterday, by the organisation's European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases.

It describes ways in which obesity plays a key role in noncommunicable diseases. Rates continue to rise in each of the 53 member states, with nearly 60% of adults and nearly one in three children in Europe now overweight or obese.

The report states: "Recent estimates suggest that overweight and obesity is the fourth most common risk factor for noncommunicable diseases in the region and is the leading risk factor for disability."

Rates of obesity have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, it explains, and must be managed throughout the life course with a particular focus on obesogenic environments including the recent challenges posed by digital marketing of unhealthy food to children.

Policies to prevent obesity are outlined in the report, such as taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages or subsidies for healthy foods, and restrictions on marketing to children.

Dr Hans Henri Kluge of the WHO said: “Obesity knows no borders. In the Europe and Central Asia, no single country is going to meet the WHO global target of halting the rise of obesity.

“The countries in our region are incredibly diverse, but every one is challenged to some degree. By creating environments that are more enabling, promoting investment and innovation in health, and developing strong and resilient health systems, we can change the trajectory of obesity in the region.”

[WHO report]

Tags: Diet & Food | Europe | Fitness | General Health

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