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WHO warns of obesity ‘epidemic’ in Europe

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DENMARK: The World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday that “epidemic” overweight and obesity rates are linked to more than 1.2mn deaths annually across Europe, calling for swift policy changes to reverse the dangerous trend.

Obesity rates in the region have ballooned by nearly 140% in the past five decades, the WHO said in a new report, and are linked to a series of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

Nearly a quarter of adults are now obese in Europe, higher than in any other region except the Americas, the WHO said.

“Overweight and obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions across the region and are still escalating,” the health body’s European office said.

Obesity causes at least 13 different types of cancer and is likely responsible for at least 200,000 new cases of cancer per year, it said.

“This figure set to rise further in the coming years,” the organisation said in the new report.

Excess weight and obesity are estimated to cause more than 1.2mn deaths per year, accounting for more than 13% of deaths in the region, the report added.

The latest comprehensive data available, from 2016, shows that 59% of adults and nearly one in three children – 29% of boys and 27% of girls – are overweight in Europe. In 1975, 40% of European adults were overweight.

The prevalence of obesity among adults has risen by 138% since then, with a 21% increase between 2006 and 2016.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is also linked to growing waistlines, especially as lockdowns promoted “an unhealthy diet or sedentary lifestyle”, the report found.

The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries, including several in central Asia.


Thursday, May 5, 2022 – 01:00

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