July 19, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Only every third Greek has a normal weight

2.4% of GDP, or $4.3 billion, is the cost of obesity in Greece. By 2060, three out of four citizens will be overweight or obese.

Obesity in our country is taking an alarming turn, pushing Greece to the top of the world rankings for the percentage of overweight citizens, while the number of obese children is increasing at a faster rate.

OECD data show that today 60% of the world’s population in Western and developing countries are overweight and 25% are obese. The obesity rate is estimated to reach 50% in the next 10 years.

In Greece in 2019, one in six citizens (17%) were obese and almost one in two (50%) were overweight. A similar high frequency of obesity was recorded in children aged 7-9 years.

Only 30.3% of the general population is of normal weight.

Obesity is a global epidemic. Recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization and the European Union, it is a multifactorial condition closely related to individual behaviour, family conditions and habits, and social norms. These multiple “roots” of the phenomenon also show the difficulty of dealing with it.

Kostas Atanasakis, Associate Professor of Health Economics at the University of Western Attica and President of the Institute of Health Economics, Pathologist Efthymios Kapandais, Secretary General of the Greek Medical Society for Obesity, Anastasia Barbouni, Professor of Public Health at PADA, and Nikolaos Tendolouris, Professor of Pathology and President of the Hellenic Society of Physicians, described this disease as “metabolic bomb”, which “needs to be neutralized”. Doctors call this mission a priority among the national goals set for healthcare.

financial burden
As the above experts pointed out, obesity significantly aggravates the health of the population, as it is associated with a number of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, depression, problems with the musculoskeletal system, etc. In addition, the disease significantly burdens the financial health care system, due to the increased need for treatment and care for these patients.

For Greece, the total economic burden of obesity in our country is estimated to be approximately 2.4% of GDP, or $4.3 billion. euro per year.

More than 50% of these costs are related to productivity losses affecting the entire economy, with the absence of people from work due to health problems associated with obesity. Every year, public health hospital spending on the treatment of obesity and related diseases exceeds 650 million euros in a system that has always, but especially now, been under heavy pressure.

We eat and sit more
Modern lifestyles and changes in the natural and built environment place complex demands on the healthcare system, while the main thing is that the “healthy” manage to maintain their health in the future.

The reasons for the increase in the incidence of obesity are associated with increased energy intake through food and a sedentary lifestyle and “sedentary” work. From 1960 to the present day, the consumption of sugary drinks, confectionery and snacks has increased by 20-100%, with Europeans sitting more than 5 hours a day. The workplace uses 15% less energy today than it did in 1960. 60% of Europeans prefer to use a car, even to “get to the bakery” and only 19% regularly use public transport. At the same time, citizens EU they eat 500 calories more per day than they did 40 years ago.

According to an OECD study in 46 countries, a 20% reduction in calories from high-calorie foods could lead to the prevention of 1.1 million cases of non-communicable diseases, 1.4 million extra work days, savings of $13 billion and a 0.5% increase in gross national product. .

Ignorance of danger
Public underestimate obesity as a disease. 84% of people are unaware that obesity increases the risk of several types of cancer, 50% are unaware of the link between obesity and cardiovascular disease, and 25% are unaware that obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and dyslipidemia. The reality is that obesity is a cause of serious, even life-threatening diseases. The more obese a person is, the higher the risk of developing a chronic disease associated with obesity.

The social determinants of health, that is, the conditions in which we are born, grow up, work, live, age and die, have the greatest impact on individual health.

Social and economic conditions, income and education, and a number of behavioral factors have been documented as significant contributors to the problem of obesity.

There is a particularly strong an inverse relationship between education and body weight in females, and an inverse relationship between income and obesity in both sexes. Of course, it is interesting that the elimination of the above factors has a positive effect on mitigating social inequalities in health and medical care.

income inequality
The data show that the higher the level of income inequality in European countries, the higher the number of overweight children, and obesity in children in Europe is closely related to the socioeconomic status of their parents.

Higher rates of obesity found in our country persons with a low socio-economic and educational level and with reduced physical activity. With regard to childhood obesity, our country occupies a very high position among European countries.

We eat a lot of sugar
In addition, Greece has a high sugar intake and a low fiber intake, with high levels of depression and anxiety disorders, factors that contribute to obesity. There are also high rates of diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes mellitus, cancer of the uterus, breast cancer, etc.

For our country, almost one in three inhabitants is projected to be obese in 2030, with an annual percentage growth rate of 1.5% from 2010 to 2030, and for children a corresponding annual growth rate of 2.1%.

An extremely ominous forecast is that in 2060, 75% of the inhabitants of Greece will be overweight or obese.

The fight against obesity is an important part of the global effort to reduce the incidence and mortality from chronic non-communicable diseases and improving the general health of the population. The outlook is uncertain, given that the phenomenon of obesity is on the rise, while internationally there are no signs of its decline. This situation entails risks for the health of the population, on the one hand, and on the other hand, an increase in demand for a medical care system that can hardly adequately respond to emerging needs.


Reducing life expectancy
Obesity is blamed for shortening life expectancy and lower GDP. In Europe alone, premature deaths from the consequences of obesity exceed 337,000 per year, and the cost exceeds 70 billion euros per year.

The inclusion of obesity in the medical handbook of diseases is imperative, since the benefits will be significant, in direct proportion to the loss of body weight. According to the OECD, for every euro invested in the prevention of obesity using evidence-based measures of effectiveness, the benefit to society corresponds to 6 euros of economic benefit. From healthy eating and exercise to the introduction of trade barriers, all measures hold promise.

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