At least 59 percent of adults in Europe are overweight or obese: WHO

About 59 percent of adults in Europe are overweight or obese, according to the 2022 Regional Obesity Report presented by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The data gathered in the WHO European region and presented on Tuesday said the problem affects more men than women, with 63 percent of men carrying excessive weight compared with 54 percent of women.

One in three children is affected, with 29 percent of boys aged between seven and nine overweight or obese, and 27 percent of girls in the same age range.

The proportion rises to 25 percent among adolescents. Meanwhile, only 8 percent of children below the age of five are overweight.

Overweight and obese people were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 during the pandemic, with heavier people more likely to be admitted to hospital or die of the disease, the WHO said.

Initial data also suggests that obesity among children and adolescents is rising due to the pandemic.

Overweight and obesity are generally among the leading causes of disability and death in the WHO European region, and obesity could become the main risk factor for cancer in the decades ahead in some countries, replacing smoking.

Obesity can lead to cancer, chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, liver and kidney problems, back pain and mental health problems.

Estimates suggest that overweight and obesity are currently the fourth most common risk factor for non-communicable diseases in the region after high blood pressure, dietary risks and tobacco, the report says.

The WHO European region is made up of 53 countries, including Turkey, Russia and Ukraine beyond the European Union. None of the countries is on track to reach the goal of stopping the rise in obesity by 2025, according to the WHO.