Obesity is a key risk factor for many non-infectious (chronic) diseases (NCDs). Overweight and obesity affect almost 60% of adults and almost every third child (29% of boys and 27% of girls) in the WHO European Region. Recent estimates suggest that overweight and obesity are the fourth most common risk factors for NCDs in the region, after high blood pressure, nutritional factors and smoking. It is also a leading risk factor for disability and obesity is associated with higher morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. Studies from a numerous of countries in the region indicate that the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased in children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new WHO report on obesity, presented on May 3, 2022, examines the growing challenge and impact of obesity in the region, building on previous publications and aligning with cancer initiatives. The report focuses on lifelong obesity management as well as suggestions for solving problems with environments that promote obesity; it also considers recent challenges, including problematic digital marketing for children and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the incidence of obesity. This outstanding document also sets out policy options to prevent obesity among Member States along with a set of population-level approaches. The current report emphasizes the importance of including prevention and control of obesity in measures aimed at better recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. Tackling obesity is key to achieving the goals of sustainable development and is a priority in the European Work Program 2020-2025 called United Action for Better Health.