Friday 19 January 2018

Obesity crisis to escalate faster among Irish women than men

Obesity by 2030
Obesity by 2030
Dr Francis Finucane
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Women will overtake men in the country's obesity epidemic as Ireland becomes the most overweight country in Europe.

A health timebomb is ticking and 85pc of women will be overweight and 57pc obese by 2030, a major report predicts today.

The population is putting itself at serious risk of a range of illness and premature death, it says.

While the findings about woman presented to the European Congress on Obesity today are particularly stark, men are also losing the fight against obesity.

Around 89pc of men are likely to be overweight and 48pc moving into the danger zone of obesity by 2030.

The study, which looks at data from 53 countries, is complied by the UK Health Forum and Dr Joao Breda of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) regional office in Europe.

It says that Ireland is on course to be the most obese country in Europe in just 15 years when almost all adults will be overweight.

Already, public health experts have expressed concern that the most recent figures, dating from 2010, show 74pc of men overweight and 26pc classed as obese.

The five-year-old statistics show 57pc of women are overweight and 23pc obese - but they are on course for an even more hazardous slide in the years to come than men.

If the forecasts are played out the proportion of obese women will more than double by 2030.

A combination of over-eating of calorie-rich foods, big portions, alcohol consumption combined with a lack of exercise has already fuelled a health crisis which now risks getting even worse.

Commenting on the projections, Dr Francis Finucane, an endocrinologist and obesity expert in University Hospital Galway said: "These projections provide no reassurance and suggest things will get even worse.

"We already have a devastating problem with obesity. It could mean we will follow the United States where one in three Americans born in the year 2000 will have diabetes by the time they are 50. That is staggering. This data here suggests the problem is getting worse in Ireland as well.

"Even if things stay the same in terms of the level of fatness in Irish people, it is still going to lead to premature death."

Although the proportion of women who are projected to be obese will be higher than men, he said: "Women are capable of storing a higher proportion of body fat than men.

"Men tend to store the fat around the stomach. At any given level of fatness, men are more likely have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure."

The forecast for the UK is that 74pc of men will be overweight and 36pc obese by 2030. It is predicted 64pc of women will be overweight and one-third obese .

Other countries with projected steep rises in obesity over this period include Greece, Spain, Sweden, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Few countries in the WHO region will be able to stabilise or decrease overweight and obesity rates. The Netherlands appears to be almost alone in tackling its national weight problem.

Fewer than half of Dutch men are predicted to be overweight, and just 8pc obese by 2030, compared with current rates of 54pc and 10pc in 2010.

When it comes to Dutch women, the proportion of overweight will remain more or less stable over the 20 years at around 43pc. However, the obesity rate in Dutch women is predicted to fall from 13pc to 9pc in the next 15 years.

Irish Independent

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