The World Health Organisation warned that ‘epidemic’ overweight and obesity rates are resulting in over 1.2 million deaths across all of Europe per year.
Calling for urgent and quick policy changes to reverse the trend, obesity rates were reported to have risen by 138% in the past five decades.
The WHO linked this to a series of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, with nearly a quarter of adults in Europe now obese. This is higher than any other region except the Americas.
The European office of the world health body said that overweight and obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions across the entire region, and are still escalating.
WHO regional director Hans Kluge was quoted in the report as saying that ‘raised body mass index is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases’. Obesity causes at least 13 different types of cancer and is likely responsible for at least 200,000 new cases of cancer yearly.
The organisation has warned that the figure is set to rise in the coming years, with the COVID-19 pandemic also being linked to the trend. The report found that lockdowns promoted an unhealthy diet or sedentary lifestyle.
“People living with obesity were more likely to experience severe outcomes of the COVID-19 disease spectrum, including intensive care unit admissions and death,” Kluge said.