UN: Obesity levels in Europe at ‘epidemic proportions’ | Health, Medicine and Fitness
LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization says rates of obese and overweight people in Europe have reached “epidemic proportions,” with nearly 60% of adults and a third of children in one of these categories.
In a report Released on Tuesday, the United Nations health agency’s European office said the prevalence of adult obesity is higher on the continent than in any other region of the world except the Americas.
“Alarmingly, there have been steady increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the WHO European Region and no Member State is on track to meet the target of stopping the rise in obesity by 2025,” the report says. Of the countries it counts in its Europe region, the WHO said the highest obesity rates were seen in Turkey, Malta, Israel and Britain.
The WHO said being overweight or obese is among the leading causes of death in the region and is responsible for more than a million deaths each year.
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Scientists have long warned that being heavy dramatically increases the risk of many diseases, including respiratory conditions, diabetes and at least 13 cancers. It is also the primary risk factor for disability.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have experienced the true impact of the obesity epidemic,” WHO Director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge wrote in the report. He noted that the obese were “more likely to experience severe consequences from the COVID-19 disease spectrum, including intensive care unit admissions and death.”
Kluge also said COVID-19 interventions such as school closures and shutdowns often increase the risk of weight gain when people turn to unhealthy diets and are forced to be sedentary.
The WHO has called on countries to adopt policies aimed at improving “environmental factors” linked to obesity, including taxing sugary drinks, restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods to children and working to improve physical activity.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that approximately 74% of Americans over the age of 20 are obese or overweight.
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