Obesity Becoming the Average Among Teens in Europe

Feb 24, 2014 09:05 PM EST | By Ian Powell

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(Photo : Flickr/Marja Lazarevski)

According to the Daily Mail, a report from the World Health Organization says that over a third of European teenagers are unhealthily overweight. The research indicates that over 27 percent of 13 year olds, and 33 percent of 11 year olds in the 53 countries examined are overweight. 

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"Our perception of what is normal has shifted; being overweight is now more common than unusual. We must not let another generation grow up with obesity as the new norm," said Zsuzsanna Jakab, who is the WHOs regional director.

The report has also found the highest incidences of overweight teens are found in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain, while the lowest reports are from the Netherlands and Switzerland. The report goes on the explain that the main causing factors of this increasing trend are diets high in salt and fats, mainly from fast and processed foods, as well as a cultural lifestyle leaning towards the sedentary. 

It is noted that a third of the children in this study were found to not get enough exercise, a trend that followed through into some of the adult portions of the study. 

The WHO suggests reducing taxes for healthier foods, and encouraging healthier food consumption and exercise in schools may curb the trend. Also increasing taxes on unhealthy foods, and monitoring teens consumption and exercise habits.

"We need to create environments where physical activity is encouraged and the healthy food choice is the default choice, regardless of social group,' said Joao Breda, a WHO expert on nutrition, physical activity and obesity. "Physical activity and healthy food choices should be taken very seriously in all environments - schools, hospitals, cities, towns and workplaces. As well as the food industry, the urban planning sector can make a difference."

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