Obesity has been identified in recent years as an epidemic of the Western world, but it's the states of Central and Eastern Europe that top the continent when it comes to the prevalence of obesity among adults. Their role as the biggest beer drinkers in the world probably doesn't help the Czechs - who weigh in at the heaviest in Europe, according to a new report from the UN.
As many as 28.7% of Czechs are obese according to the State of Food and Agriculture 2013 report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, or at least were in 2008, when the survey was taken. Other notable entries in the upper echelons include Slovenia (in second spot with 27%), Russia (4/24.9%) and Hungary (6/24.8%). Lithuania and Slovakia also make it into the top ten.
The Czechs have some way to go to challenge the global heavyweights however, as it trails in 12th place on that chart, which is topped by Mexico with 32.8% of the population officially obese.
In Europe, France and Switzerland rate as the least obese nations, with 15.6% and 14.9%, respectively, and Western European states occupy the top seven places in those terms. Romania - with 17.7% - performs best out of CEE states.
The additional health threat in CEE only serves to suggest another drag on the those countries' efforts to catch up in terms of economic development, and extra costs in terms of health care. As the UN report notes, obesity imposes "economic costs on society directly through increased health care spending and indirectly through reduced economic productivity."
Most of the losses occur in high-income countries - which in the global context includes CEE - it adds, warning that the price tag is palpable. "Although no global estimates of the economic costs of overweight and obesity exist, the cumulative cost of all non-communicable diseases, for which overweight and obesity are leading risk factors, were estimated to be about $1.4 trillion in 2010," it points out. That was around 2% of global GDP that year.
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