(CNN) – The Mediterranean diet is known for its beneficial effects on cardiovascular and metabolic health. According to recent data from the World Health Organization, obesity rates in the Mediterranean are among the highest in the world.
The new WHO report, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna on Wednesday, pointed to 34 countries In the European Region, the countries of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, San Marino and Spain had the highest rates of obesity in children. In these countries, about one in five boys was obese (18% to 21% of boys). The obesity in girls was only slightly lower.
Childhood obesity is more common in this region than in the United States, where about 1
. "Obesity in the majority of Member States affects 1-2 out of 10 children, and the problem is more serious in the southern European countries," said Drs. João Breda, head of WHO's European Bureau for Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Control report, wrote in an e-mail.
"We believe it is due to the loss of traditional Mediterranean diet patterns in the South [and] to the increased intake of sugars and energy dense food combined with particularly low levels of physical activity", added Breda.
The Mediterranean diet is usually characterized by a high intake of plant foods and olive oil; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat and sweets; and a moderate intake of wine, according to a 2018 WHO report.
Extensive evidence suggests that compliance with a Mediterranean diet may have long-term benefits for cardiovascular and metabolic health. For example, a 2011 study showed that compliance with the Mediterranean diet for four years reduced the incidence of type 2 diabetes in older adults by 52%.
Obesity in children was twice as common in southern European countries as in northern European countries such as Denmark, Ireland and Norway, where the rate of childhood and adolescent obesity was between 5% and 9%, according to the report.
The most recent data come from the WHO Obesity Surveillance Initiative, which has tracked obesity and obesity prevalence among European children ages 6 to 9 over the last 10 years. Height and weight measurements of approximately 250,000 children from 34 countries between 2015 and 2017 were collected for the new report.
Some larger nations – such as the United Kingdom and Germany – did not participate in the study but had their own surveillance systems to monitor childhood obesity and obesity prevalence
"This is a unique initiative at the global level and the largest worldwide with such huge data sets, "said Breda. "Given their dimension and critical mass, we believe this study provides important insights into the global picture."
The increased prevalence of childhood obesity in Southern Europe compared to the rest of the continent is likely due to a combination of diet and lifestyle. Bruce Y. Lee, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Global Obesity Prevention Center, who was not involved in the WHO report.
"It's a combination of factors," Lee said. "There are changes in the food system – more artificial foods, more processed foods, foods with additives, salt, sugar and so on – and that's a problem worldwide."
"There is also decreasing physical activity that occurs. Englisch: emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 120 & lang = en. Emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 120 & lang = DE San Marino, which has the fifth highest childhood obesity in the new report , Paradoxically, also has the fifth highest average life expectancy of a country in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook, with an average life expectancy of 83.3 years in 2017.
"One of the issues is, of course, that the Mediterranean diet is part of one Lifestyle with many spontaneous physical activities was [that is] which is why there is always a generous amount of calories, "Breda said.
" In restoring the Mediterranean diet, we need to ensure that calorie intake is adjusted for modern life and physical activity is increased – Basically adapting and restoring the Mediterranean diet until the 21st century, "he said Englisch: bio-pro.de/en/region/stern/magazine /…1/index.html Changes in diet and lifestyle in the Mediterranean could also be the result of increased urbanization, said Aviva Must, professor and chair of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, who did not attend the new report
"The Mediterranean diet is threatened by urbanization and globalization," Must wrote in an e-mail. "Traditional Southern European dietary habits, especially for children, are changing with more processed foods, more animal sources, less fiber and more total calories."
Breda says the new report does not mean that the Mediterranean diet is less healthy than previously believed. However, the results suggest that in many parts of the Mediterranean, many people's diets and lifestyles are no longer what they once were,
"The Mediterranean diet of children in the Mediterranean is a myth – it's unfortunately gone," said Breda.
"But the good news is that there are strong movements and initiatives in these countries to reclaim them, and we hope they will succeed and the principles of this traditional diet will be available to all in the coming years in this section Europe's standard, "he added.
Dietary changes may also be associated with increased poverty rates in some southern European countries. Many of the countries with the highest childhood obesity rates are among the highest in Europe, according to the CIA Factbook 2011-2015
In Greece, for example, almost 36% of the population live below the poverty line – the highest on the continent
"At times "In childhood obesity, the proportion of low-income and low-income populations has increased disproportionately," said Lee. "Many low-income populations have poor access to healthy food, because if you think about it, a healthy lifestyle can cost you money."
Obesity in children increases the risk of a number of health conditions in adulthood. Studies show that a child with obesity is five to seven times more likely than adults to be obese than children who are not obese, according to Breda.
"Obesity in children increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease later on," said Breda. "In many countries, obesity affects more children in disadvantaged groups and contributes to the striking health inequalities that compound a vicious circle of poverty and non-communicable diseases."
Obesity also has negative effects on the physical and mental health of children before adulthood, according to Lee
"We now see chronic illnesses that were previously considered to be teething problems in adults." So now we see type 2 diabetes in children, where you usually think about when you talk about diabetes in children type 1 diabetes, "said Lee.
Despite the high rate of obesity in children across much of southern Europe, the prevalence in many of these countries has stabilized or decreased slightly since the last Breda WHO report.
"The decline was estimated at 2-7% in countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece," said Breda. "We need more trials and more laps to be sure of the decline, and we are already preparing for the fifth round next year."
The new data may well be good news for those dealing with the increase rate of childhood obesity in the area.
"The study clearly demonstrates the importance of tackling child adiposity in a comprehensive and systematic way through education and regulatory tools," said Breda. "But it also sends a strong signal of hope that if we do the right things and implement powerful solutions, the problem can be solved."
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