Ireland is among the most obese nations in Europe according to the WHO and has reached epidemic proportions


The obesity rate in Ireland, which affects more than one in four adults, is now above the European average and the disease has reached epidemic proportions, a major World Health Organization report warned today.

The prevalence of obesity in both men and women in this country has now risen to 25.3 percent, compared to a European average of 23.3 percent.

The difference is most notable among Irish men, of whom 25.1 per cent are obese, compared to the European average of 21.8 per cent.

Ireland ranks ninth in a table of 53 countries for obesity. It is ranked 11th for people who are either overweight or obese.

For children aged five to nine, Ireland ranks ninth for overweight and obesity.

Among 10-19 year olds, Ireland ranks 10th in the overweight and obesity table.

The report warns that obesity has reached epidemic proportions across Europe and is still escalating. Obesity is linked to at least 13 types of cancer.

Overall, over six in ten adults in Ireland today are overweight or obese, including 66.1 per cent of men and 55.2 per cent of women.

The report, presented this week at the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, Netherlands, shows that in the European region, 59 percent of adults and almost 1 in 3 children – 29 percent of boys and 27 percent of girls – are overweight or live with obesity.

The prevalence of adult obesity in the European Region is higher than in any other WHO region except the Americas.

Overweight and obesity are among the leading causes of death and disability in the European Region. According to recent estimates, they cause more than 1.2 million deaths annually, accounting for more than 13 percent of the region’s total mortality.

Obesity increases the risk of many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory diseases.

For example, obesity is linked to at least 13 different types of cancer and is likely to be directly responsible for at least 200,000 new cancer cases annually across the European Region, with this number set to increase in the coming years.

Overweight and obesity are also major risk factors for disability, accounting for 7 percent of all years spent in disability in the Region.

Overweight and obese people are disproportionately affected by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has seen unfavorable changes in food consumption and movement patterns that will impact population health for years to come and will require significant efforts to reverse.

To counter the growing epidemic, the report recommends a range of interventions and policy options that EU member states can consider to prevent and tackle obesity, with a focus on better recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic .

“Obesity knows no borders. In the Europe and Central Asia regions, not a single country 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 one is challenged to some degree. By creating a more enabling environment, fostering investment and innovation in health, and developing strong and resilient health systems, we can transform the trajectory of obesity in the Region.”

The causes of obesity are much more complex than the mere combination of unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. The report presents the latest evidence and highlights how vulnerability to unhealthy body weight at a young age can influence a person’s propensity to develop obesity.

Environmental factors unique to living in the highly digitized societies of modern Europe are also drivers of obesity. For example, the report examines how digital marketing of unhealthy food to children and the spread of sedentary online gaming are contributing to the rising tide of overweight and obesity in the Region.

However, it also examines how digital platforms could also provide opportunities to promote and discuss health and well-being. Ireland is among the most obese nations in Europe according to the WHO and has reached epidemic proportions

Fry Electronics Team

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