A Greek professor announced the grim news that Greek youth are among the most obese in the whole world.
"Despite the relevant information from the domestic scientific community, Greece is still among the world champions of obesity, especially among younger people. The average 18-year-old Greek men and women in the last 20 years show an increase in their weight by 15kg and 7kg respectively, i.e. they have 2-4 kg more than their peers in America, and 3-5 kg more than other Europeans."
This, among others, was emphasised to AMNA by Yannis Koutentakis, professor emeritus of the University of Thessaly and former president of the National Center "Exercise is Medicine-Greece."
"As the vast majority of overweight children and teenagers will become overweight or obese adults – with all the negative effects on individual and public health but also with huge economic, social and national ramifications – it is understood that tackling the phenomenon should be a government priority”.
He emphasises, based on studies, that "obesity has been characterised as a pandemic which, for now at least, shows little signs of recession."
"For the obese, the quality of life is reduced but also shorter, since they experience significant health complications more often, compared to people of normal weight.
"Diabetes, breast and colon cancers, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and, especially, cardiovascular diseases are some of the diseases that have been linked to obesity. Even cases of sexual deficiency have their basis in this condition."
But what is obesity?
Koutentakis says that "obesity is the pathologically increased deposition of fat in the human body, and since 1948 the World Health Organisation has included it in the list of diseases."
Speaking about the picture presented by Greek children, he points out that "it has been found that the lack of physical activity (hypoactivity) explains about 65% of obesity cases in both boys and girls in the country and only 18-20% of these cases have been linked with poor nutrition."
Given that the average daily energy intake (calories) increased in Europe by only about 14% in the period 1961-2012,while in approximately the same period obesity had a jumpy increase of 140%, then it becomes clear that the factor "insufficient physical activity - exercise", a consequence of the lifestyle of the last decades, easily explains the rise in childhood obesity in Greece.
"Therefore, there is a need to increase the daily average and vigorous physical activity (inside or outside of school) of young people by at least 1½ hours. This could be achieved by adding many short intervals of physical activity (walking to school, cycling, sports) so as to cover around 1,800 calories per week," he said.
"Finally, Greek researchers propose the design and implementation of intervention programs in schools to promote healthy eating and increase physical activity for children and their families, as well as the planning and implementation of a process for easy and timely identification of families at high risk for obesity and its accompanying diseases," he emphasised.