Obesity has reached “epidemic proportions” in Europe, the World Health Organization says, as a major report shows the disease is causing 200,000 cancer cases and 1.2 million deaths a year.
In the first such study for 15 years, the WHO said overweight and obesity rates had hit deadly levels and were “still escalating”. No country in the region was on track to meet the WHO global noncommunicable disease (NCD) target of halting the rise of obesity by 2025, it said.
Across Europe, 59% of adults are overweight or obese as well as 8% of children under five and one in three children of school age. Obesity prevalence in Europe is higher than in any other part of the world except the Americas, according to the report presented at the European Congress on Obesity.
Obesity is linked to a string of other diseases, including musculoskeletal complications, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and at least 13 types of cancer. The report said excess body fat led to premature death and was a leading risk factor for disability.
“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,” the report said. “For some countries within the region, it is predicted that obesity will overtake smoking as the main risk factor for preventable cancer.”
Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, said reversing the obesity epidemic in Europe was still possible. “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.”
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Source: The Guardian, 3 May 2022