World Health Organization Warns of Obesity “Epidemic” in Europe Causing More Than 1.2 Million Deaths Annually

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that the rates of obesity in Europe had reached “epidemic proportions,” causing more than 1.2 million deaths annually.

According to the report presented at the European Congress on Obesity on Tuesday,  59% of adults and almost 1 in 3 children (29% of boys and 27% of girls) are overweight or living with obesity in the European region.

The report revealed that overweight and obesity are among the leading causes of death and disability, causing more than 1.2 million deaths a year, corresponding to more than 13% of total mortality in the Region.

“Obesity increases the risk for many NCDs, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory diseases. For example, obesity is considered a cause of at least 13 different types of cancer, and is likely to be directly responsible for at least 200 000 new cancer cases annually across the Region, with this figure set to rise further in the coming years. Overweight and obesity are also the leading risk factor for disability, causing 7% of total years lived with disability in the Region,” according to the news release.

“Overweight people and those living with obesity have been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been unfavourable shifts in food consumption and physical activity patterns during the pandemic that will have effects on population health in the years ahead, and will need significant effort to reverse.”

Britain’s News Channel reported:

The study, from the World Health Organisation (WHO), found that excess body fat leads to premature death and is a leading risk factor for disability.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made things worse, including for children in the UK, due to drops in exercise and increases “in the consumption of foods high in fat, sugar and salt”, the report said.

Across Europe, being overweight or obese affects 59% of adults as well as 8% of children under five and one in three children of school age.

Of all the countries in Europe, the UK ranks fourth for having the most overweight and obese adults, behind Israel, Malta and Turkey, according to the study. It is second only to Malta on obesity.

“Alarmingly, there have been consistent increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the WHO European region and no member state is on track to reach the target of halting the rise in obesity by 2025”, the report said.

The research noted that obesity is associated with many diseases, including musculoskeletal complications, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and at least 13 types of cancer.

“Across the WHO European region, obesity is likely to be directly responsible for at least 200,000 new cancer cases annually, with this figure projected to rise in the coming decades,” it added.

“For some countries within the region, it is predicted that obesity will overtake smoking as the main risk factor for preventable cancer in the coming decades.”

“Obesity knows no borders,” said Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.

“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.”

The report said “obesity is a disease – not only a risk factor” and its causes are more complex than just an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.

It said that “environmental factors unique to living in modern Europe’s highly digitalised societies are also drivers of obesity”, such as the digital marketing of unhealthy food products to children, apps to order unhealthy meals and the “proliferation of sedentary online gaming”.

Read more here.

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