The organization, with its European branch, which includes 53 countries, pointed out that “the rates of overweight and obesity have reached epidemic levels across the region, and are on the rise.”
According to the World Health Organization, nearly a quarter of adults in Europe are obese, making the prevalence of obesity higher than in any other region except the Americas.
No country in the region can currently claim to have halted the progression of this scourge, and the scale of the problem has been vigorously revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic as excess weight is a risk factor.
“Increased body mass index is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease,” WHO Director for Europe Hans Kloe said in the report.
Thus, overweight and obesity are the causes of more than 1.2 million deaths annually, which represents more than 13 percent of deaths in the region, according to the study.
Obesity causes at least 13 different types of cancer, and is likely to be directly responsible for at least 200,000 new cases of cancer annually, according to the World Health Organization.
The organization warned that “this number is expected to rise further in the coming years.”
The most recent comprehensive data available, dating back to 2016, shows that 59 percent of adults and nearly one in three children (29 percent of boys and 27 percent of girls) are overweight in Europe.
In 1975, 40 percent of European adults were overweight.
The prevalence of adult obesity has increased by 138 percent since then, with an increase of 21 percent between 2006 and 2016.
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.
Kluge stressed that the restrictions (school closures and public closure measures) at the same time led to “increased exposure to certain risk factors that affect the likelihood of a person being obese or overweight.”