Obesity rates across Europe are projected to rise dramatically by 2030, with a majority of European men and women having either overweight or obesity, according to projections from the WHO’s Regional Office for Europe.
Researchers announced the projections at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Prague.
Laura Webber, PhD, of UK Health Forum, London, João Breda, PhD, of the WHO Regional Office for Europe in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues analyzed data from the WHO Modeling Obesity Project, a partnership between the UK Health Forum, the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Commission. Researchers analyzed available data on adult BMI and weight trends (average, overweight and obese) in 2010 to make projections to 2030 for all 53 countries in the WHO European region.
Researchers predict several countries will see steep rises in obesity, particularly Ireland, where nearly all of Irish adults are projected to have overweight (89% of men; 85% women) and half obesity (48% of men; 57% of women) by 2030.
Greece, Spain, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic also are projected to see significant increases in obesity. An estimated 77% of Greek men and 67% of Greek women are likely to have overweight by 2030, and the proportion of Greek men and women with obesity may double during the same period.
Researchers predict a few countries will see stable or even decreasing obesity trends. Fewer than half of Dutch men (49%) are predicted to have overweight, and just 8% obesity, by 2030, compared with 54% and 10%, respectively, in 2010. The proportion of overweight among Dutch women is projected to remain stable (43% in 2030 and 44% in 2010). However, the obesity rate in Dutch women is predicted to fall from 13% to 9% during this period.
The modeling study is based on the history of obesity trajectories in countries, Breda said, and it does not take into account the effect of various prevention efforts in countries that may be happening now or initiated in the future.
“It means that if countries implement prevention activities, then they will have an impact on the forecast and, therefore, the future values will be lower,” Breda told Endocrine Today.
Despite the work already being done in many countries, more preventive measures that increase physical activity and healthy eating habits are needed, he said.
“If the obesity levels increase, then [a] corresponding increase in comorbidities is expected — notably diabetes and cardiovascular disease on top of the already serious consequences of obesity,” Breda said.
“More research on the root causes of obesity and the role of inequalities is needed,” he said. “More research on risk reduction and treatment of overweight and obesity are also needed.” – by Regina Schaffer
Breda J, et al. WHO projections in adults to 2030. Presented at: European Congress on Obesity; May 6-9, 2015; Prague.
Disclosure: Webber and Breda report no relevant financial disclosures.