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WHO Warns: Obesity levels in Europe at ‘epidemic proportions

The rise in obesity levels in Europe causes 200,000 cancer cases a year, experts warn.

A rise in obesity levels across Europe leads to an increase in cancers that could be prevented, a new report has warned.

According to the European Society for Medical Oncology, it will lead to a further 700,000 over the next decade if nothing is done to curb the problem.

The rise of obesity means there are now more cases of bowel cancer linked to being overweight than smoking in men aged 30-49, it found.

There are more bowel cancers in women aged 50-69 due to being overweight than smoking.

Obese children are more likely to become obese adults.

The research shows that Ireland is one of the most overweight and obese countries in Europe when it comes to children.

Ireland is in ninth place among children aged five to nine for overweight and obesity.

Among those aged 10 to 19, Ireland is in tenth place in the overweight and obesity table.

Italy had the lowest level of childhood obesity, followed by the Netherlands and Sweden. Malta had the highest rates of childhood obesity at 28pc of those aged five to nine years, followed by Greece at 26pc, Hungary at 25pc, and the Czech Republic at 23pc.

The report warns 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 10 adults in Ireland are now overweight or obese, including 66.1pc of men and 55.2pc of women.

The report, presented at this week’s European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, Netherlands, reveals that 59pc of adults and almost 1 in 3 children – 29pc of boys and 27pc of girls in the European region – are overweight or living with obesity. The statistics were compiled by a team from Imperial College London and published by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Researchers said the findings highlight the “dire need” to strengthen action to tackle the obesity-related illness. The findings also show that some 34pc of men and 37pc of women are obese across Europe.

The report says that one-fifth (21pc) of all deaths among Europeans aged 45–64 years are due to excess body weight.

The authors claim that if current trends continue, by 2030, there will be more than nine million deaths attributable to overweight and obesity in Europe each year.

Experts said parents were “storing up” problems for their children by overfeeding them during infancy.

Prof Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), which helped develop the report, said: “Obesity causes many thousands of cancers every year across Europe and is likely to become increasingly common – especially among young people who are growing up overweight or obese.”

He added: “Urgent action is needed to tackle obesity and help people maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives.”

Europe is experiencing an epidemic of obesity, with more than a third of its population overweight or obese. The proportion of people who are very obese has tripled in the past 30 years.

The WHO’s annual report on Europe’s health showed that between 2008 and 2018, the proportion of European adults who were obese increased from 25% to 27%. In addition, the proportion of overweight people in Europe increased by 2% over this period, reaching 55%.

The WHO said that excess body fat was linked to premature death and was a leading cause of disability. It said obesity was also linked to many other diseases, including musculoskeletal complications, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and at least 13 types of cancer.

Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO regional director for Europe, said reversing the obesity epidemic in Europe was still possible. “By creating more enabling environments, promoting investment and innovation in health, and developing strong and resilient health systems, we can change the trajectory of obesity in the region.”

In its report on European health systems, which was published alongside its annual review on Monday (19 April),

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