WHO sees risk of obesity becoming the new norm in Europe

LONDON (Reuters) - Being overweight is so common in Europe that it risks becoming "the new norm", with around a third of teenagers now heavier than is recommended for their health, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

In a report on obesity levels in the 53 countries of the WHO's European Region, the United Nations health agency said up to 27 percent of 13-year-olds and 33 percent of 11-year-olds are overweight.

"Our perception of what is normal has shifted; being overweight is now more common than unusual. We must not let another generation grow up with obesity as the new norm," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO's regional director.

She blamed a combination of high levels of physical inactivity, coupled with a culture that promotes cheap, convenient foods high in sugars, fats and salt. This combination, she said, "is deadly".

Obesity rates among 11-year-old boys and girls were highest in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain, and lowest in the Netherlands and Switzerland, the report found.

Lack of exercise is a key part of the problem.

In 23 out of 36 countries, more than 30 percent of boys and girls aged 15 and over are not getting enough exercise. Among adults, rates of women who don't engage in enough physical activity range from 16 percent in Greece and 17 percent in Estonia to 71 percent in Malta and 76 percent in Serbia.

The WHO recommends children aged 5 to 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, and adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

Joao Breda, a WHO expert on nutrition, physical activity and obesity, said peoples' living environments - including the layout of town, cities, schools and workplaces - are crucial to increasing rates of exercise.

"We need to create environments where physical activity is encouraged and the healthy food choice is the default choice, regardless of social group," he said in a statement released with the report.

"Physical activity and healthy food choices should be taken very seriously in all environments - schools, hospitals, cities, towns and workplaces. As well as the food industry, the urban planning sector can make a difference," he added.

The WHO report found, however, that some countries, including France and some Scandinavian countries, have managed to contain the obesity epidemic "through a whole-of-government approach".

It said many policies in these countries - such as promoting vegetable and fruit consumption in schools, taxing certain foods to reduce intake, controlling advertising, employing good surveillance and monitoring, and taking action to promote physical activity - had combined to help keep obesity levels stable.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

--

Did you know that you can get stories like this on the Yahoo mail app?
Download it here.

Latest News

  • How to look good without eye makeup

    Makeup artist Nirmal Randhawa, owner of Indica Makeover studio, shares a few steps to look great and gorgeous sans the conventional eye beautification: * Following basic eye skin care: Applying facial cream to eyelids is helpful because it will keep them moisturised. …

  • 'Jigarthanda' director obtains stay on Hindi remake

    Chennai, May 29 (IANS) Filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj has obtained an interim injunction on the Hindi remake of his critically acclaimed Tamil film "Jigarthanda", alleging the producer of cheating him by selling the remake rights without his knowledge. Reportedly, "Jigarthanda" producer Kathiresan sold the Hindi remake rights of the movie to Sajid Nadiadwala. "As per the contract I signed for the movie, it was assured that I will be given 40 percent of the revenue generated through selling the …

  • Dharmendra may soon undergo shoulder surgery

    Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) Veteran actor Dharmendra may undergo shoulder surgery soon, his wife and actress Hema Malini said on Friday. Addressing Dharmendra's health scare, Hema said he is recuperating well, but necessary medical treatment has to be ensured. Under observation now & he may have a shoulder surgery a lil later. …

  • No plans to make 'Mickey Virus' prequel: Director

    Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) Writer-director Saurabh Varma has denied reports he is working on a prequel to "Mickey Virus". "It's not true," Varma told IANS when asked about the rumours. Varma says "the plan obviously will be to build a thriller with franchise potential keeping the audience at the edge of their seat throughout". …

  • R. Madhavan one of the most wonderful actors: Hirani

    New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani has lauded R. Madhavan's performance in "Tanu Weds Manu Returns". The director, who worked with Madhavan during "3 Idiots", feels that Madhavan is one of the most underrated actors. "Madhavan is one of the most wonderful actors we have. …

  • Nawazuddin to play Pakistani journalist in 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'

    Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui essays a Pakistani journalist in forthcoming Salman Khan starrer "Bajrangi Bhaijaan", which is scheduled to release on July 17. Nawazuddin and Salman will be coming together for the second time after "Kick". …

  • Perception is that I had it easy: Jackky Bhagnani

    Mumbai, May 29 (IANS) Actor Jackky Bagnani, son of film producer Vashu Bhagnani, says the perception about him has been that his entry into Bollywood has been easy. But he asserts that it has not been an easy ride. …

  • 'Maggie' - Engaging zombie film (IANS Movie Review - ***)

    Rating: *** "Maggie" is director Henry Hobson's debut film. Set in the post-apocalyptic world, where the inhabitants are infected by the Necroambulist virus that turns people into zombies, this is an emotional saga of a father-daughter relationship, where Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a farmer and a loving father. …

Loading...