The World Health Organization has said that the way children use meal-delivery apps and the rising popularity of online gaming could be increasing obesity across Europe.
Nearly 60% of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese-with the Covid pandemic making the situation worse and the WHO has now predicted that no European country is on track to stop obesity rising by 2025.
The WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022 says rates of overweight and obesity have reached “epidemic proportions”, with only the Americas having a higher level of obese adults than Europe.
The WHO estimates the obesity problem is causing 1.2 million deaths every year in Europe – 13% of all deaths – and at least 200,000 new cases of cancer annually.
Carrying too much body fat increases the risk of many diseases, including 13 types of cancer, type-2 diabetes, heart problems and lung conditions. It is also the main cause of disability, the WHO report says.
“Obesity knows no borders,” said Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.
“The countries in our region are incredibly diverse but every one is challenged to some degree.”
But “we can change the trajectory of obesity in the region” by developing strong health systems, he said.
The highly digitalised food environments affect what, when and how people eat and should be monitored more closely, the report says.
The report stated that meal-delivery apps play a significant role in increasing consumption of high-fat and high-sugar food and drinks.
Online gaming, which is hugely popular among children, is also seen as a cause of obesity as it reduces physical activity and involves staying in one place for a long time, the report added.