Published on 20 May 2016

Health experts have warned that the impact of a rising population of obese people in Europe could have a “devastating” impact on healthcare costs and productivity, ahead of European Obesity Day this Saturday, 21st May.

The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) has highlighted that recent reports have predicted that the number of people being overweight and obese will continue to increase at an alarming rate and will affect more than half of all European citizens by 2030. In some countries it may be as high as 90%.

Obesity is linked with a number of other health conditions and can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

European Obesity Day raises awareness about the health risks linked with being overweight

As part of European Obesity Day, the EASO and its member associations in 32 countries in Europe, will be staging various events to draw attention to the situation and to create greater awareness and understanding of obesity and its impact.

According to the World Health Organization, obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century. The number of obese people in many countries in Europe has tripled since the 1980s.

Obesity is estimated to cost European countries more than €70 billion (£54 billion) in healthcare and lost productivity.

Reports recently published in the medical journal, The Lancet, have also highlighted the scale of the global obesity epidemic and have highlighted a huge rise in type 2 diabetes as a result.

Young couple exercising outside.

Lifestyles changes including a healthier diet and more exercise can help people lose weight

Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer, are among a number of health conditions that overweight people are at a greater risk of.

European Obesity Day is organised annually by the EASO to bring people together and to increase knowledge about obesity and the many other diseases on which it impacts.

In line with the theme for European Obesity Day 2016, Action for a Healthier Future, people across all EU member states are being encouraged to participate.

At a European level, EASO has expressed its support for a Written Declaration that has been initiated in the European Parliament. It calls for greater recognition of obesity as a disease by EU Member States.

Professor Hermann Toplak, EASO President, said: “Obesity is a complex and chronic disease with numerous causes, many of which are beyond an individual’s control. The causes can range from genetic and endocrine conditions to environmental factors, such as stress, diet and increasingly sedentary working patterns.

“A healthier lifestyle, including a healthy diet and regular physical activity can help maintain a normal weight. However, obesity is a chronic disease and should be recognised and treated as such. Accepting and supporting people with obesity will help them seek the help and treatment they need.”

World Health Organization information on obesity here
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