More than one in two adults (59%) and almost one in three children (29% of boys and 27% of girls) are now overweight or obese in the WHO European Region. This is the disastrous finding recorded in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) new European regional report on obesity 2022, published this Tuesday 3 May. “Overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions in the Region note the authors,and rising, with none of the Region’s 53 Member States currently on track to meet the WHO global target for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) of halting the rise in obesity by 2025
This ranks the European Region second only to the Americas in the world for the prevalence of adult obesity. The leading causes of death and disability in the European Region are overweight and obesity, which is estimated to cause more than 1.2 million deaths each year, or more than 13% of all deaths.
Obesity is known to increase the risk of many non-communicable diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory disease. Overweight and obesity are actually associated with an increased risk of cancer in 14 sites: breast, colon/rectum, kidney, endometrium, liver, pancreas, esophagus, gallbladder, stomach, ovary, mouth/pharynx/larynx, prostate (advanced stage). According to the WHO report, obesity is likely to be directly responsible for at least 200,000 new cancer cases in the European Region each year. This number is set to increase further in the coming years.
Extra pounds are also responsible for 7% of the total number of years lived with a disability in the affected area.
Covid and the digital lifestyle amplify the phenomenonThe Covid crisis has also shown us that obesity is one of the main risk factors in victims of the coronavirus. Not only has the virus hit this population harder, but it has also led to adverse changes in food consumption and movement patterns during the pandemic. behaviors”which will have an impact on the health of the population in the coming years and which will require considerable efforts to reverse
‘ the WHO has already warned.However, obesity, a disease with complex causes, is not just a simple combination of poor diet and physical inactivity, the report highlights again, presenting the latest evidence showing how susceptibility to an unhealthy body weight at a young age affects a person’s tendency affect can develop obesity. “Environmental factors specific to living in the highly digitized societies of modern Europe are also drivers of obesity.
, underlines the WHO, whose report examines, for example, how digital marketing of unhealthy food to children and the spread of sedentary online games are contributing to the growing tide of overweight and obesity in the European Region. In search of solutions, the report also examines how digital platforms could also provide opportunities to promote and discuss health and well-being.
Tax sugary drinks, restrict marketing of junk food…In an effort to stem the growing epidemic, following the unprecedented health crisis we have just been through, the UN agency recommends that member states implement a range of measures and policy options to prevent and combat obesity. “Obesity knows no borders. In Europe and Central Asia, no country alone will meet the WHO global NCD target of halting the rise in obesity said dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.The countries in our region are incredibly diverse, but each faces certain challenges. By creating a more enabling environment, fostering investment and innovation in health, and building strong and resilient health systems, we can transform the region’s obesity trajectory.
“.Making a statement is one thing. Offering solutions is another. Believing that the fight against obesity is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, WHO has made it a priority in its European work program 2020-2025. “To reverse the trajectory of the obesity epidemic, address nutritional inequalities and achieve environmentally sustainable food systems WHO insists on the need to work globally.Obesity is complex, with multifaceted determinants and health consequences, meaning that no single intervention can halt the rise of the growing epidemic. Any national policy aimed at tackling the problems of overweight and obesity must be based on high-level political commitment. They must also be comprehensive, reach people throughout their lives and target inequalities. Efforts to prevent obesity must address the broader determinants of disease, and policy options must move away from approaches that focus on individuals and address the structural drivers of obesity.
More specifically, the report lists some specific measures that show promise in reducing obesity and overweight. And to name just a few examples: the implementation of fiscal interventions (such as taxes on sugary drinks or subsidies on healthy food); restrictions on marketing unhealthy foods to children; Improving access to obesity and overweight management services in primary health care within universal health coverage; Efforts to improve diet and physical activity throughout life, including pre-conception and pregnancy care, promotion of breastfeeding; school-based interventions and those aimed at creating environments that improve the accessibility and affordability of healthy food and opportunities for physical activity.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) is one of six WHO regional offices worldwide. It serves the WHO European Region, which comprises 53 countries and covers a large geographical area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.