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Gaining On the US: Most Europeans To Be Overweight By 2030 329

Posted by timothy
from the look-to-your-left-look-to-your-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Welcome to the club, Euro friends. A World Health Organization analysis concludes that within 15 years a majority of Europeans will be obese or severely overweight. In almost all countries the proportion of overweight and obesity in males was projected to increase – to reach 75% in UK, 80% in Czech Republic, Spain and Poland, and 90% in Ireland, the highest level calculated. Women fare a little better. In reviewing the results, the lead researcher said: "Our study presents a worrying picture of rising obesity across Europe. Policies to reverse this trend are urgently needed.""
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Gaining On the US: Most Europeans To Be Overweight By 2030

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  • by Zanadou (1043400) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @04:54AM (#46965499)
    "If you can't eat 'em - join 'em"
    • Re:As they say: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @06:53AM (#46965785)

      They also say:

      "In a poor country, only the rich can afford to get fat."

      "In a rich country, only the rich can afford to stay thin."

  • People live longer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flyingfsck (986395)
    As people live longer on average, the average symptoms change. Eventually, all these older fat people will get cancer. Nothing new here.
    • by MrL0G1C (867445)

      Or heart disease, cars cause obesity, lack of exercise. Bicycles are the cure.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        Sitting n an office chair for 8-12 hours a day doesn't help much either. I miss my old job where I was on my feet all day long. Now I am in a chair for the entire day and it sucks.

        What we need to do is to automate management, and accounting systems and go work on our feet all day. Obesity will disappear.

        • dude, lots and lots of people work manual labor jobs and are still fat. the reality is more like caloric consumption would increase to about 105% of the increase in expenditure. it's like being married and getting a raise.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Huh? My impression was that the fat people mostly died from cardiovascular problems aka old body can't take the strain while the thinner mostly died from cancer. Sure, you have somewhat more cells that could go cancerous but I've never heard obesity being a big risk factor for cancer.

  • by pijokela (462279) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @05:13AM (#46965545)

    The formula for BMI is weight(kg) / heigth(m) * height(m). This formula only has two terms for height, but in reality I'm a 3d person. What I mean with this is that it is easier for a short person to be "normal weigth" in BMI. As people on average get taller and taller more and more people are going to be overweight. On the other hand many of my male friends are lifting weights and they are all "overweight" while clearly they are not fat.

    So, while the problem is probably real and severe, I'd like to see a better way of measuring this stuff.

    • I agree, BMI is a horrible metric. It would be much more meaningful to use body fat percentage to evaluate if someone is overweight.

      And even then, it doesn't always hold up for individuals. My BMI is ~31.5, my body fat is right around 30%, but I'm in extremely good health, good cholesterol numbers, no diseases, good blood pressure, stable blood sugar levels, no diabetes, all of those things. But I lift weights and I'm not into the cut and striated bodybuilder thing. Sure, I'd love to lose some fat, but not

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @05:54AM (#46965629)
      BMI is a [poor] approximation of body fat percentage [wikipedia.org] (that article lists a few ways to measure it; I know people with eletronic scales that use bioelectrical impedance analysis [wikipedia.org] when you step on them barefoot). Wikipedia has a section on it in the BMI article [wikipedia.org] including a scatterplot of BMI vs. body fat % [wikipedia.org] I hadn't seen before. Basically, BMI is used because it is much easier to measure than body fat %, but it does not tell the whole story. Importantly, BMI is far more meaningful for a population than for an individual because the error cancels out to some extent.
    • The formula for BMI is weight(kg) / heigth(m) * height(m). This formula only has two terms for height, but in reality I'm a 3d person.

      Congratulations, I'm sure nobody has noticed that before.

      I mean, It's entirely impossible that people don't scale up like, say, solid bronze statues would. Furthermore it'd be ludicrous to suggest that the formula wasn't an empirically derived approximation but was just made up by someone who wasn't as math-smart as you.

      • The formula for BMI is weight(kg) / heigth(m) * height(m). This formula only has two terms for height, but in reality I'm a 3d person.

        Congratulations, I'm sure nobody has noticed that before.

        I mean, It's entirely impossible that people don't scale up like, say, solid bronze statues would.

        Well, if I cut through the sarcasm here, (1) people have noticed this before, and (2) people do NOT scale up like solid bronze would. On the other hand, your sarcasm doesn't make an exponent of 2 true or an accurate approximation, nor does it make the exponent 3 as the GP suggests. The actual value when derived from various empirical studies falls in an exponent range of 2.3-2.7. If you separate out men and women, you can narrow that range somewhat. If you take other factors into account, you can get ev

        • by epine (68316) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @08:57AM (#46966235)

          That was a surprisingly good summary of what I've concluded from my own readings. I guess there are two types of nerds: speedy nerds and slow nerds. Generally what passes for intelligence here is News for Speedy Nerds.

          For really short people, you basically have to be obese to be "normal" and for really tall people, you basically have to be emaciated.

          I'm in the second group. I'd have to check myself into the Ally McBeal foie gras buffet emporium if I ever got down to the bottom end of my "healthy" BMI bracket using the dumb old formula. I used to weight about that much during my growth spurt, despite devouring large meals between larger meals. Strangers standing beside me in elevators used to worry whether my body could withstand the acceleration, and suggest to me that I eat more. On one work term there was a one-plate lunch buffet restaurant I used to frequent where I discovered the technique of using the sturdy vegetables and lettuce to cantilever the plate's diameter. I was a serious eater, and still I had no shadow.

          Here is an equally simplistic BMI that works better at the extremes: Ponderal index [health-calc.com]. It works for me because I eventually filled out into a "scaled up" normal person with no (recent) African genes for shedding heat.

          After taking a closer look I concluded that some individuals are such a bad fit for the regular BMI, the use of BMI in the medical setting with these individuals amounts to borderline malpractice. How many people are taking a cholesterol drug because their BMI factored into their GP's uncritical perception?

          Anyone else remember the old expression: garbage in, garbage out? Coefficient 2.0 of the BMI formula needs a serious make-over.

    • by wiredlogic (135348) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:00AM (#46965801)

      BMI isn't supposed to be used for measuring this stuff. It was developed to be an expedient way to gather data on large populations of people. Its inaccuracies become smoothed out with a large enough sample size. It is always wrong to apply it to an individual and make decisions based on it.

      The better way exists in the form of the US Navy body composition assessment which includes the circumference of the neck and waist. Nobody wants to take the time to do that in a clinical setting so it isn't used in the civilian world.

      • by pijokela (462279)

        Yes, a better way of measuring would be nice.

        My point was that in addition to the other problems that BMI has it also has a problem of making tall people overweight. And as populations get taller and taller on average, this measurement problem increases the percentage of overweight people. For this simple problem it would be enough to just create a new formula using height and weight or even just use something above 25 as the overweight limit for taller people.

    • What I mean with this is that it is easier for a short person to be "normal weigth" in BMI. As people on average get taller and taller more and more people are going to be overweight.

      True enough. Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain was overweight and tending toward obese by BMI standards.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      So, while the problem is probably real and severe, I'd like to see a better way of measuring this stuff.

      The trick is finding something similarly cheap and easy to measure. For something that can be determined with just a bathroom scale and a tape measure, most of the more effective competing metrics I'm seeing involve equipment you wouldn't see outside of a major hospital.

    • by kheldan (1460303) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @11:59AM (#46967467) Journal
      Allow me to give you another perspective on why the BMI tables, even recently updated, are stupid and need to be deprecated/abolished/destroyed/ignored: They're based on statistical averages, whereas human beings are most certainly not statistically average. Even skin-caliper testing, administered by an experienced person, is more accurate at determining body composition than BMI tables are. Hydrostatic weighing is very accurate, but only if your bone density is either 'statistically average', or you know what your bone density is so the calculations used can compensate. The real 'Gold Standard' is a DEXA scan, which is primarily used for bone densitometry, but is also highly accurate for determining body composition.
    • by stenvar (2789879)

      There is a "new BMI formula" here:

      http://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/t... [ox.ac.uk]

      Tall people get a slight bonus on BMI, but less than you might think, and the measure doesn't seem to be much better than the old BMI.

      You are 3D, but if you're healthy, you grow preferentially along one axis.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 10, 2014 @05:20AM (#46965559)

    People like Gok Wan that make people take pride in how awful their bodies look is partially to blame for this epidemic.
    People are no longer ashamed to be fat larding morons wobbling around the streets.
    Fat-shaming NEEDS to be a thing. Despite what those childish tumblr-tards say. You shouldn't be happy you are fat. You shouldn't at all. It is an abnormality. The human body hasn't evolved to deal with it. And it shouldn't evolve to deal with it. It shouldn't even be happening.

    And while I have mentioned this, these people only make it accepting. It is the bad fast-foods, the premade foods and ready-meal generation that are corrupted.
    THESE need to change more than anything. All these companies can put as much spin on it as possible, "oh, our meals are only meant to be one-offs every so often", or whatever other bullshit they can come up with, they are partly responsible for this.

    Quite frankly, I say make people pay double for healthcare if they become obese through circumstances out of their own hands. (illnesses, genetics, and some medications like the steroidal types)
    And if they haven't fixed it by 10 years, make it official and roll it out across the countries. There is no reason to be fat unless you have severe illness, genetics or medications. No reason at all. (NHS UK included. I am from UK and I would be for those changes. Screw equality, these people aren't equal any more, equality was based on averages, they are well outside the range of these averages!)
    Even WHEN eating all these fattening foods, you can still exercise it off completely.

    More physical classes in school should also be a thing. Hell, go experimental, have classes on foot if possible. Teach people while walking around the school, a forest, a school garden, whatever. There are various classes that could be taught on foot. They don't even need to be long classes either, they can be spaced out in amongst other classes, 15-30 minute classes on foot, standing about, writing on a notepad (with backing to make it sturdy), gets them used to being outside, standing while doing other things instead of sitting down to do things.
    Seriously, fund it. If that doesn't breed an active generation, I don't know what will.
    Nothing beats relaxing after exercising. Relaxing all the time? It is sickening. I don't know how people can be a semi-permanent couch potato day-in day-out.

    • I heard that in East Asia countries it is more common to people point out that you are fat. They are not necessarily angry but more like "wow, you're been gaining some weight, my friend". Something like that should indeed come in spades to the western world too, instead of people being extremely careful of "not insulting" (wavy hands) anyone.
      • by dejanc (1528235) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:27AM (#46965883)
        When I was visiting my parents once, after getting out of shower all wet and with a towel on, I got an epic line from my father: "Go back to the bathroom, put on some clothes, and lose 10 kilos, before you enter the living room".

        In many parts of Europe (I can speak for the Balkans for sure), it's perfectly normal to comment on weight and friends and family. It's not said out of malice, it's with best intentions. And if anything, when everybody you know starts commenting on how fat you are getting, you start and think if it's time to go on a diet. It also usually means that you can get some support from family and friends if you need to change your lifestyle to lose weight, so it can work out good.

        It's different with children though - they can be rough and tease/bully you for being fat. For some kids that can be an incentive to take up a sport, for some it will be nothing but trauma.
        • In many parts of Europe (I can speak for the Balkans for sure), it's perfectly normal to comment on weight and friends and family. It's not said out of malice, it's with best intentions.

          In Finland, the topic is avoided, and if mentioned, is interpreted as mild malice. Only among very close friends and family members can overweight be openly discussed. A random coworker, for example, will never talk about it.

        • Yeah I've noticed that in France too. I was out shopping with some friends and one guy had a hard time finding a t-shirt that fitted him, so he mumbled something about big bones. The woman next to him promptly said "FAT BONES!" loudly and without a bother.

    • by Bryan Ischo (893) *

      While I don't agree with much of what you say, I do agree that there is something to be said for social pressure against being fat, and losing that social pressure is on balance a bad thing.

      I noticed maybe 10 years ago that it had become acceptable for teenage girls to wear low cut jeans and short tops with rolls of fat sticking out. Girls would wear this fashion with pride regardless of their physique. This is very different than when I was a teenager in the 80s and looking like that would generally subj

    • by m00sh (2538182)

      One of the most astounding thing I encounter with "OB-city" threads is that everyone seems to know the solution to cure obesity. Do this and do this and do this. Everyone has their own pet theory that they think is absolutely right.

      Well, here's my pet theory to cure obesity. Fund obesity researchers and let them conduct scientific experiments.

      I have bat-shiat crazy theories on this. Walk barefoot in the hook-worm infested latrines in Africa. Seriously, that is one of them. Our ancestors ate raw food and

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @01:02PM (#46967953)

      Fat-shaming NEEDS to be a thing. Despite what those childish tumblr-tards say.

      Later in your post, you say there should be exceptions for illnesses, genetics, etc. How exactly do you plan to explain when it's appropriate for kids to shame other fats vs. when they can't, for example? Or is it okay to shame everyone for their appearance if it might imply something bad about their character? A lot of black people commit crimes (on average, more so than some other groups) -- should we shame all black people too on the basis of their appearance?

      It is an abnormality. The human body hasn't evolved to deal with it. And it shouldn't evolve to deal with it.

      It's good that we have an AC to decide how the human race "should evolve." Congratulations: you've now entered into the exciting field of eugenics!

      All these companies can put as much spin on it as possible, "oh, our meals are only meant to be one-offs every so often", or whatever other bullshit they can come up with, they are partly responsible for this.

      Great -- the corporations are partly responsible. How much do you plan to charge them to contribute to healthcare for their "responsibility" for the fat people? Or do we only charge the fat people more, even though you claim some other people share the blame? (Just looking for the logic here.)

      Quite frankly, I say make people pay double for healthcare

      Yeah, this always comes up when morbidly obese people and smokers are discussed. (For the record, I'm neither -- but that shouldn't matter now, if we're discussing logically, should it?)

      What's the argument here? Fat people (and smokers and whoever the demon of the week is) cost more in healthcare? Yeah, they do, on average -- on an annual basis. But guess what? They die earlier. There have been a number of studies that show a clear cost savings over the lifespan of an obese person. Why? Because old people need more health care. Who do you think will cost more over the course of retirement? The fat guy who dies in his mid-60s and basically never retires, but costs more for his 5 years of diabetes care or whatever? Or the skinny guy who lives to 95, spends 30 years drawing government retirement money, needs a couple knee replacements for the all the running he did by his late 60s, falls and breaks a hip and spends a year recuperating in his 70s, and then needs 10-15 years of care during his 80s and 90s as his brain slowly turns to mush from whatever random degenerative disease? Fat people die sooner, so even though they have more years of concentrated medical costs at a younger age, over their lifespan they cost significantly less. (And that's just healthcare costs -- factor in extra costs for the government to pay out retirement money, etc., and fat people cost society a LOT less.)

      If you live in a country where you pay for health insurance, by all means, charge fat people more for their premiums. It makes sense from a cost-benefit analysis. But if you have a nationalized health system (or even if you don't), you should actually be giving these people a tax break -- if your goal is to save the system money.

      It sounds counterintuitive, but most studies don't take into account decrease longevity when they talk about how fat people "cost more." (And governments downplay the few studies that have looked at this question, because they don't want to encourage obesity.) It gets even better for cigarette smokers -- a few different studies show that for ever pack of cigarettes someone smokes, they save society about 30 cents because they are likely to die sooner. I'm not kidding. And that's not even counting taxes on cigarettes.

      (illnesses, genetics, and some medications like the steroidal types)

      Exactly how do you determine which "genetics" are bad enough to justify that it's okay to be fat? I mean, the human race evolved

    • Fat-shaming works...to an extent. The problem is that it carries over into places it really shouldn't.

      Specifically, I'm thinking about what happens currently when overweight people try to get in some exercise to improve their situation. Fat-shaming is already alive and well when those people show up at the gym or start jogging around town. An overweight person may not feel out of place when they're surrounded by the general public (i.e. other overweight people) all the time, but dress them in clothes that i

  • That means we won't have anything to tease them about.

  • by SkunkPussy (85271) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @06:37AM (#46965731) Journal

    I have lost 2 stone / 28 lb / 13kgs over the last 18 months after I scrapped my car and started cycling to work (7 miles each way). I have no interest in going to the gym - no time for that - and I'm not particularly bothered about sport. If I had kept my car I would inevitably drive whenever I was going to be late for work, which would be all the time. So what worked for me was to leave myself no option other than to do exercise every day.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:24AM (#46965877) Homepage Journal

    As a society becomes more technologically advanced there is less and less actual physical work being done by most of its citizens.

    Couple that with more readily available food ( both good and bad kinds ), and a general lack of personal control, being overweight makes logical sense in many parts of today's world.

  • by Max_W (812974) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @07:50AM (#46965949)
    Closing cities to all automobile traffic. This is it.

    Commuting becomes very fast as bicycles do not need traffic lights.

    There are cargo bicycles too for supplying shops. Strangely people will eat less as they move more. Anyone who was on a long distance cycling tour could not to fail to notice it. People overeat due to to an anxiety. And regular physical activity reduces anxiety dramatically.

    As a by-product we get that there will be no bad areas in a city due to traffic noise and pollution.
    • Although this is an obvious "solution", it's not very realistic.

      However, there is one trend I noticed over the last years: I see a lot of young, healthy people riding on motorized scooters that do not require wearing a helmet. They are limited to 25 km/h (16 mph) which is a bit faster than a bicycle (though many are 'unlimited' afterwards), and I wonder "Why don't they take the bike?" It takes only slightly longer to do the same trip on the bike, it costs fuel and thus money and it is not very healthy, sinc

    • Thank you commrade Max for your suggestions on how to control other people's lives.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Commuting becomes very fast as bicycles do not need traffic lights.

      Speaking as a pedestrian and one who spends some time in Amsterdam, "Yes they do!"

    • by m00sh (2538182)

      Closing cities to all automobile traffic. This is it.

      I tried to get one street closed for rush hour for one day of the week and have it reserved for only bicycle traffic and that was next to impossible.

  • Interestingly, I'm the first to mention alcohol in this discussion.
    • by Zedrick (764028)
      I haven't seen any reports about Europeans drinking less, but you're right. Since I stopped drinking 4-5 months ago I've gained around 10KG. I'll try to catch up in a few weeks when my girlfriend and our newborn daughter are going away for the weekend, but no matter how many bottles of ale I manage to drink, I doubt I'll get back in shape.
  • Policies to reverse this trend are urgently needed.

    OMG! People are (insert adjective, adverbs, nouns as appropriate)! We must do something! Somebody make a policy, quick!

    The role of government is not to be Mom or Nanny. Will the government next send a message to their TV's 'You have reached your maxium TV dose for today, go outside and play now. The TV is off until tomorrow!"

  • Perception of Normal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SlurpingGreen (1589607) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @06:11PM (#46969313)

    I live in the US. 6 feet, 145lbs, lift weights regularly, eat rice/beans/vegetables, no sugar. Roughly a third of my family regularly tells me I'm way too skinny and they're concerned about my health. They think I'm going to die of starvation. I've had quite a few women make comments about how I'm too skinny and not strong (one thought she could beat me arm wrestling). My favorite is when I'm with someone and a seriously in shape bicyclist passes by and they compare the bicyclist to a holocaust survivor.

    We've entered a dark place when people start shaming fit people because they don't even know what a normal person should look like.

  • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Monday May 12, 2014 @06:33AM (#46977921)

    There are many factors in obesity.
    1. The greatest is willpower. Pure, sheer wilpower. The willpower to eat less, the willpower to exercise.
    2. Luck. I happen to have the luck to be able to sleep with a mostly empty stomach. It is surprising how much that helps. I also have the luck that I like biking and live in the Netherlands, where almost everybody bikes. Some people have the bad luck to have a body that gains easy and looses difficultly.
    3. Food. I do not mean quantity, that's covered in 1. I mean types. There seems to be some indication that some types of food set the body to gain weight. How that works exactly is not yet known as far as I know. Apparently I don't eat much of them, or I compensate for it sufficiently.
    4 and onwards are unknown to me. However, due to the complexity I expect them to be there.

    I am 1m96 and weigh 95 kg. My ideal weight according to my doctor would be 88kg. I have dropped from 106kg in 6 months. That was easy, I halved my portion size and upped my bicycling distance significantly.

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