The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating obesity in Europe

Obesity and overweight are epidemic in countries in the European region and have only worsened with the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed on Tuesday.

In the Obesity Report 2022 published on Tuesday, the WHO warns that “alarmingly, there have been steady increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the European region. [que compreende 53 países, da Islândia ao Tajiquistão] and no Member State is within reach of the target of halting the rise in obesity by 2025“.

Almost two-thirds of adults and 8% of children under five are overweightpoints out the World Health Organization, noting that the covid-19 pandemic has had an “adverse impact on food consumption and physical activity patterns”, with confinement orders issued by governments affecting “disproportionate overweight and obese people.

“Obesity is a direct cause of at least 200,000 cases of cancer per year”

On the other hand, the fact that the obesity is a risk factor for more severe cases of covid-19 has led people with this condition to further isolate themselves at home, with many digital food delivery apps available, easy access to foods high in salt, fat and sugar.

Among the adult population in the European region, there is a prevalence of 59% overweighthigher in men (63%) than in women (54%), and reached 23.3% of the population of the European regionthe second highest rate in the world, after the Americas region.

Measures taken to contain the spread of the virus increased levels of overweight and obesity in children and adolescentsconcludes the WHO based on preliminary data.

This has worsened an already worrying situation: up to the age of five, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is 9% and climbs to 30% between five and nine years. In adolescence, the prevalence of obesity drop to 25%.

Among the various health consequences is the increased risk of cancer. “Obesity is probable direct cause of at least 200,000 cancer cases per yeara number that is expected to increase in the coming decades”, in addition to being responsible for “1.2 million annual deaths” in the WHO European region.

“For some countries in the region, obesity should overcome the smoke as the main risk factor for preventable cancers in the decades to come.

The organization also points to overweight as the cause of at least 13 different types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, kidney, liver and ovarian cancers. Recommendations include more taxes on “unhealthy” foods and restrictions on their “sale, advertising and portion size”, as well as “subsidies to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables”.

In 2016, 57.5% of the adult population in Portugal was overweight

In this context, the World Health Organization Portugal highlights as a country that “since 2019 has a law that restricts the advertising of drinks and foods high in fat, salt and sugar, which can only be advertised if they comply with Portuguese nutritional models, based on those of the WHO Europe”.

“Some violations of the law have been reported and passed on to the judicial system by the competent authority, but these processes have proven to be complex and difficult to prove,” notes the WHO, noting that to comply with such a law, one must “a rigorous control systemespecially with new technologies and techniques” of digital marketing.

It also recommends that “all food and drink served or sold in public places contribute to the promotion of healthy eating” and that “the concentration of unhealthy eating establishments” near schools be controlled.

With regard to physical exercise, he calls on populations to have “convenient and safe access to an open and quality public space”, as well as incentives such as “safe walking paths, local bicycle paths and trails adult-friendly walking routes for children at local educational institutions”. .

According to WHO data, 57.5% of the adult population in Portugal in 2016 they were overweight, 52% were female and 63.1% were male – of which 20.3% were considered obese. In updated figures for 2020, 8.5% of children under five are overweight, including obesity.

The WHO notes an increase in the percentage of overweight women during pregnancy, pointing to Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Hungary as countries in which “it is estimated that more than 20% of women are obese when they get pregnant”, a trend accentuated among women “from lower socio-economic strata”.


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