Obesity, the disease we don't want to see

Obesity, the disease we don’t want to see

Obesity, the disease we don’t want to see

The World Health Organization warns that obesity is now an “epidemic” in Europe

According to the latest available data, 59% of adults and about one in three children are overweight in Europe. Obesity, which increases the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease in particular, is responsible for 13% of annual deaths in the region.

The prevalence of obesity among adults in Europe increased by 138% between 1975 and 2016.The prevalence of adult obesity in Europe increased by 138% between 1975 and 2016. (iStock)

Obesity in Europe is now an “epidemic”. The alert was made on Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO), in a new report on the disease.

“Ratees of overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions across the region and continue to rise”, regrets, in a press release, the European branch of the organization. On the Old Continent, nearly a quarter of adults are now obese, making the prevalence of obesity higher than in any other region except the Americas.

1.2 million deaths a year

No country in the region can currently claim to halt progress, and the scale of the problem has been vigorously exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic where excess weight was considered a common disease. “An increased body mass index is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases, including cancers and cardiovascular disease,” WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge confirms, citing the report.

Thus, overweight and obesity are the causes of more than 1.2 million deaths annually, which is more than 13% of deaths in the region, according to the study. Obesity is the cause of at least 13 different types of cancer and is likely to be directly responsible for at least 200,000 new screenings each year. “This number is expected to rise further in the coming years.”The World Health Organization warns.

The most recent comprehensive data available, dating back to 2016, shows that 59% of adults and about one in three children (29% of boys and 27% of girls) were overweight across Europe at that time. In 1975, 40% of European adults were overweight. The prevalence of adult obesity has increased by 138% since then, an increase of 21% between 2006 and 2016.

The harmful effect of the covid epidemic

According to the World Health Organization, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it possible to measure the impact of the obesity epidemic in the region. Restrictions (school closures, confinement) have at the same time “It led to an increased exposure to some risk factors that affect the likelihood of a person becoming obese or overweight.”, emphasizes Hans Kluge. The pandemic is causing harmful changes in eating and sports habits, whose lasting effects must be reversed, the World Health Organization is pleading.

Policy interventions that target the environmental and market determinants of unhealthy diets […] likely to be the most effective in reversing the course of the epidemic.”, she believes. There is also a need to tax sugary drinks, subsidize healthy foods, reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children, and support efforts to encourage lifelong physical activity, she added.

Prevention is the best way to fight?

But how do we treat this disease then? “The principle is simple: When you gain weight, it means you have more calories than you expend. The theoretical solution is to reduce calories and increase spending.Boris Hansel explains.

While some are able to change their lifestyle and lose weight in the long term by walking more for example and eating more vegetables, others have a more difficult time making a drastic change: “For these people, you must be accompanied. And you should not succumb to restrictive diets with the thought of losing weight quickly and then maintaining it: “Either you can drastically change your lifestyle, which can be complicated, or you are experiencing difficulties and need support.”

To treat obesity, the World Health Organization is calling for more public prevention policies. Because the current measures will not be enough: “There is absolutely no preventive information for the general public about this non-contagious epidemic of overweight and obesity”Anne-Sophie Jolly, president of the National Rally of Obesity Societies, laments a “disaster” even if she says she wouldn’t be surprised.

“Water is the only necessary drink”

The World Health Organization also suggests taxing sugary drinks: “We will never stop Coca-Cola or other soda producers from making sweetened beverages”The type is Pierre Azzam, a physician who specializes in obesity, based on education. “You have to teach children not to drink soft drinks and to keep them hydrated. It should become more culturally harmful to them than a cigarette. And that is our responsibility.”He adds, calling for nutrition courses from school.

Because sugary drinks are almost the worst: if there is food, a painful drink, it is soft drinks, As Boris Hansel warns. “Sparkling water is the only drink necessary”sets, also alert about juices, ” and he Calories like soft drinks.

Image source: AFP and rmc.bfmtv.com
Morgan Fadanilli for Les Echos Weekend

2022-05-07 17:38:17

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