59% of European adults are overweight or obese, according to The Guardian, citing a report from the World Health Organization. This is the first WHO study on obesity in Europe in 15 years, and it shows that obesity has reached epidemic proportions here.
The prevalence of obesity in Europe is higher than in any other part of the world, with the exception of North and South America. If among adults 59% of Europeans are overweight, then among schoolchildren - every third, and among children under the age of five years - 8%. Israel, Malta, Turkey and the United Kingdom occupy the first places in terms of the number of overweight adults in Europe. No European country has come close to achieving the WHO global goal to combat noncommunicable diseases by 2025 to halt the rise in obesity.
Obesity is associated with other diseases, including musculoskeletal complications, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and at least 13 types of cancer. “Throughout the WHO European Region, obesity is likely to be the direct cause of at least 200 000 new cases of cancer each year, and this number is projected to increase over the coming decades,” the report says. Experts predict that in some European countries obesity will replace smoking as a major risk factor for preventable cancer.
The report says that the causes of obesity are more complex than just poor diet and physical inactivity. Weight is strongly influenced by factors specific to highly digitalized societies, such as online shopping for junk food for children and the proliferation of online games.
The report proposes a number of measures to help combat obesity. These include a tax on sugar on sugary drinks, a ban on the sale of unhealthy foods to children, limits on takeaways in low-income neighborhoods, proper labeling of baby food, and the introduction of food standards in kindergartens.