The highest levels of both being overweight and obesity are found in Mediterranean and eastern European countries. Educational inequalities are widespread, with higher obesity prevalence found in people with lower levels of education.
In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic experienced globally over the last two years has made the obesity problem even more pressing. Patients with obesity are more likely to experience complications and death from the virus, and many of these patients have experienced disruptions in accessing obesity management services.
Early studies also suggest that during the global pandemic, people have had higher exposure to obesity risk factors, including an increase in sedentary (inactive) lifestyles and consumption of unhealthy foods – that can in turn be a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
Dr Kremlin Wickramasinghe, Acting Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of NCDs, which produced the WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022, said: “Obesity is influenced by the environment, so it is important to look at this problem from the perspective of every stage of life. For example, the life of children and adolescents is impacted by digital environments, including marketing of unhealthy food and drinks.
“We have learned over time that a single policy will not work. To succeed as a country or Region, we need a comprehensive package of interventions. No single country has been able to introduce all these policies at the same time. It is important to prioritise two or three policies to implement now and have a feasible plan to introduce the rest of the interventions.
“Restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages and improving health system response for obesity management are currently among the most actively discussed policy areas in the WHO European Region.”
Read the WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022
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