Two out of three adults in Europe are overweight
IIn just 40 years, the number of overweight children and young people in Europe has increased massively. Almost every tenth child under the age of five is now considered overweight. The number of fat boys aged five to 19 tripled between 1975 and 2016, and it doubled for girls of the same age. This is shown by data from a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO), which was presented on Tuesday. According to this, almost two thirds (59 percent) of all adults in the WHO Europe Region are now overweight or obese, 63 percent of men and 54 percent of women. Germany is still below the European average. According to the “European Obesity Report 2022”, 57 percent of adults in this country are overweight, 65 percent of men and 48 percent of women.
According to the WHO, overweight and obesity have reached “epidemic proportions” in Europe. In some countries, obesity could soon replace smoking as the leading cause of cancer, the report says. Overweight and obesity are already among the leading causes of death in Europe, with more than 1.2 million deaths every year. Obesity is also one of the main reasons for premature disability. The basis for the data is the so-called body mass index (BMI). Body weight is related to body size. The BMI is calculated from the quotient of body weight and height squared. Normal weight people have a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kilograms per square of height. A BMI of 30 is considered obese or obese.
The WHO Europe Region comprises 53 countries and stretches from Greenland to the Pacific coast. Data from the various countries up to 2016 was compiled for the report. Turks, Maltese, Israelis and Britons are among the fattest Europeans, and Moldovans, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Tajiks are among the thinnest. The consequences of overweight and obesity are also reflected in an increase in diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, fatty liver and sleep apnea. Fat people were and are also disproportionately affected by Corona, as they have a greatly increased risk of contracting the virus more severely than people of normal weight.
In its report, the WHO complains that being overweight is still too often seen as a problem for the individual and not as a task for society as a whole. No country within the European region is currently on the right track to at least slow down and stop the spread of this epidemic by 2025, as planned. The WHO is critical of the increasingly unhindered digital access to food, for example via apps that deliver food to your home, which was further promoted by the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home. Far too often the digital environment is still unregulated, especially with regard to the topic of health. Similar to alcohol or tobacco, unhealthy food is still too often advertised online in an unregulated manner.
Among other things, the WHO calls for taxes on unhealthy food. They should not be allowed to be advertised or sold, and their pack sizes should be reduced. In addition, students should not have access to it in the vicinity of their school. For children and young people, the WHO would like to see sports programs in kindergartens and schools as well as canteens where healthy cooking is done and food is served free of charge. And there should also be comparable offers for adults at their workplaces.