Obesity in the EU

The latest European Health Interview Survey shows that almost 1 adult in 6 in the EU is considered obese and the share of obesity increases with age and decreases with education level.
While 46.1% of those aged 18 or over living in the EU had a normal weight in 2014, slightly more than half of the adults (51.6%) were considered as over-weight (35.7% pre-obese and 15.9% obese) and a further 2.3% as under-weight. In other words, nearly 1 in every 6 persons aged 18 or over in the EU was obese in 2014.
Obesity is a serious public health problem that can be statistically measured using the Body Mass Index (BMI) of adults, with obesity defined as a BMI of 30 or over. The share of obese adults clearly varies between age groups and according to education level. With the exception of those aged 75 or over, the older the age group, the higher the share of obese persons: the obesity share in the EU stood at 22.1% for people aged 65 to 74, while it was below 6% (5.7%) for those aged 18 to 24. The pattern is also clear for education level: the proportion of obese persons in the
EU falls as the educational level rises. Indeed, while the percentage of obese persons among those with low education level reached almost 20% (19.9%), it decreased to 16.0% for those with a medium education level and to less than 12% (11.5%) for the population with a high education level.
More statistics on obesity in the EU can be downloaded from the ec.europa.eu website.

A Healthy Weight for Ireland

In the past two decades levels of overweight and obesity in Ireland have doubled with only 40% of the population having a healthy weight. This represents one of the biggest public health challenges Ireland is facing today and according to the WHO these levels are forecast to increase, so Ireland may top the European “League Tables” in this regard. The fact that the majority of the population is overweight or obese means that Ireland faces a dramatic increase in chronic diseases which, in the worst case scenario, will reverse the improvement in life expectancy seen in the last few decades.
Ireland has now produced ‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland – Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016 – 2025’ to help people achieve better health and in particular to reduce the levels of overweight and obesity. It also acknowledges that the solutions are multiple andthat every sector has a role to play.
The full Obesity and Action Plan can be downloaded from the health.gov.ie website

Adding to Social capital and individual Potential in ex-Industrial REgions (ASPIRE)

This proposed project will be applying for funding under the Interreg VA France (Channel) England programme which focuses on issues that affect the coastal areas of southern England and northern France. In both areas there are places currently deeply affected by the closure of a single dominant employer such as mining, ship-building and heavy industrial production. The local economy has found it hard to replace the jobs lost and the resulting deprivation shows in the levels of unemployment and general ill-health (mental and physical).

This project will initiate and encourage small-scale community involvement in growing, cooking and selling local produce, creating a healthier community and enabling small businesses to evolve and regenerate the local economy.

The Health and Europe Centre are the lead partners in this project and although it is in its very earliest stages, we already have a number of organisations interested in becoming partners, including Medway CIC, KCC, Plymouth Council, Kent CHFT and the Hadlow Group through the Betteshanger Community Park.

Physical activity strategy 2016–2025

The WHO Regional Office for Europe has prepared a physical activity strategy to support the voluntary global targets set out in the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2020.

The strategy focuses on physical activity as a leading factor in health and well-being in the European Region, with particular attention being paid to the burden of noncommunicable diseases associated with insufficient activity levels and sedentary behaviour. It aims to cover all forms of physical activity throughout an ordinary person’s life.

For more information and to download the physical activity strategy on the euro.who.int website.

Maternal nutrition linked to children’s risk of NCDs and obesity

The nutritional well-being of pregnant women affects not only their fetuses’ development but also children’s long-term risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or obesity, according to a new report from WHO/Europe “Good maternal nutrition. The best start in life”.

While the importance of good nutrition in the early development of children has been recognized for decades, the report offers a systematized review of the most recent evidence on maternal nutrition and obesity and NCD prevention. The findings confirm that a mother’s nutritional status – including overweight and obesity, excessive gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes – affects not only her child’s health as an infant but also the child’s risk of obesity and related chronic diseases as an adult. In short, maternal nutrition can truly have an intergenerational impact.

The findings of this report further emphasize the need to implement strategies to optimize the nutrition of reproductive-age women. The evidence suggests that such interventions are among the most effective and sustainable means of achieving positive effects on health and reducing health inequalities across the next generation.

For more information about the impact of maternal nutrition on children on the euro.who.int website

 

Decade of Action on Nutrition

Nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished and 159 million children under 5 years of age are stunted. Approximately 50 million children under 5 years are wasted and over two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile 1.9 billion people are overweight – of whom over 600 million are obese – and the prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing in nearly all countries.

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed a UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.

The resolution aims to trigger intensified action to end hunger and eradicate malnutrition worldwide, and ensure universal access to healthier and more sustainable diets – for all people, whoever they are and wherever they live. It calls on governments to set national nutrition targets for 2025 and milestones based on internationally agreed indicators.

For more information about the Decade of Action on Nutrition on the who.int website

Global report on Diabetes

The first WHO Global report on diabetes states that the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults. Factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity.

In 2012 alone diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths and its complications can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

The report calls on governments to ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes. It encourages us all to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain.

To read the Global Report on Diabetes on the who.int website

 

Obesity in the EU

In Europe today, 6 of the 7 biggest risk factors for premature death – blood pressure, cholesterol, Body Mass Index, inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse – relate to how we eat, drink and move.

Rising overweight and obesity across Europe is particularly worrying. The European Commission advocates an integrated approach, involving stakeholders at local, regional, national and European levels.

In 2014, an Action Plan on Childhood Obesity was adopted that aims to halt the rise of childhood obesity by 2020.  A Joint Action on Nutrition and Physical Activity, involving 25 Member States, was started in September 2015.

To read more about EU policies on Nutrition and Physical Activity on the ec.europa.eu website.

Global action on diabetes

The number of adults living with diabetes worldwide has almost quadrupled since 1980, to 422 million, according to the first WHO Global report on diabetes. An estimated 64 million people are now living with the disease in the WHO European Region.

The growing diabetes epidemic is strongly associated with increasing trends in overweight and obesity, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and socioeconomic disadvantage. Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease, and simple changes to one’s lifestyle can be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of the disease and its complications, which can include cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, loss of limbs and even loss of life.

To read the Global Report on Diabetes on the who.int website

Global recommendations to stop childhood obesity

The World Health Assembly recently adopted a global target for all countries to renew their efforts to halt the rise of obesity in children under 5 by 2025.

The Commission’s recommendations to address childhood obesity cover six areas:

  • promotion of intake of healthy foods;
  • promotion of physical activity;
  • preconception and pregnancy care;
  • early childhood diet and physical activity;
  • health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children;
  • weight management.

To read the report and other publications on childhood obesity on the euro.who.int website.