Obesity statistics

Fact sheet 5 – Childhood obesity surveillance in the WHO European Region

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The European childhood obesity surveillance initiative will design, pilot and establish a standardized, sustainable system for monitoring the nutritional status of European primary schoolchildren, based on a common study protocol.

The challenge of obesity – quick statistics

  • The worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008. According to country estimates for 2008, over 50% of both men and women in the WHO European Region were overweight, and roughly 23% of women and 20% of men were obese.
  • Based on the latest estimates in European Union countries, overweight affects 30-70% and obesity affects 10-30% of adults.
  • Estimates of the number of overweight infants and children in the WHO European Region rose steadily from 1990 to 2008. Over 60% of children who are overweight before puberty will be overweight in early adulthood. Childhood obesity is strongly associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, orthopaedic problems, mental disorders, underachievement in school and lower self-esteem.
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