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Nutrition Deemed a Growing Challenge for Health in the EU

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Nutrition Deemed a Growing Challenge for Health in the EU

December 08
12:14 2010

Over half the EU adult population is now overweight or obese according to the ‘Health at a Glance: Europe 2010’ report just published by the European Commission and the OECD. The rate of obesity has more than doubled over the past 20 years in most EU Member States. This has considerable implications on health, health systems and on the wider economy. This is one of the many findings in a report which provides useful insight into the current situation of health in the EU.

The report shows that prevalence of obesity alone ranges from less than 10% in Romania and Italy to over 20% in the UK, Ireland and Malta. On average, just over 15% of the EU adult population is obese.

Healthy habits start young. Children who are obese or overweight are more likely to suffer from poor health later in life, with a greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, arthritis, asthma, a reduced quality of life and even premature death. Currently, 1 in 7 children in the EU are overweight or obese – and the figures are set to rise even further.

Other key findings in the report include:

* Life expectancy at birth in the EU increased from 72 years in 1980 to 78 years in 2007.

* There are fewer deaths from heart disease, but it is still the biggest cause of deaths in the EU, accounting for 40% of all deaths in Europe in 2008.

* There is a strong link between the prevalence of dementia and the ageing of the population as the number of people aged over 65 is expected to double between 1995 and 2050.

* The shortage of doctors is a cause for concern in many European countries.

* Health spending has risen in all EU Member States, often increasing at a faster rate than economic growth. In 2008, EU Member States spent, on average, 8.3% of their GDP on health, up from 7.3% in 1998.

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