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Obesity rates in Ireland are expected to reach epidemic levels by 2030, according to health experts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.K. Health Forum, Ireland could become Europe’s heaviest and most obese nation by 2030. Even though health experts have stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle, new data has suggested that obesity rates in Europe have continued to rise and action needs to be taken to avoid an expected weight gain epidemic.
According to a study conducted by British researchers, 90 percent of Irish men and 84 percent of Irish women will fall into body mass index (BMI) categories ranging from overweight to obese by 2030. This expectation will designate the Irish population as the highest population of overweight individuals in Europe. Similarly, England will be second to Ireland in 2030 with an expected 75 percent of men and 64 percent of women registering overweight or obese BMIs, if trends do not change and action is not taken.
Experts contend that it would not be easy to fight the growing obesity rates in Ireland and other countries that are expected to reach epidemic levels by 2030. However, they have stressed the need for common sense health habits, reduction in bingeing on junk food and soda, increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables, and encouraging serious changes in their food habits.
For this specific study, the researchers defined obesity as having a BMI of 30 or higher, which remains the standard measurement. While individuals with a BMI of 25 to 30 would be considered overweight. BMI measures body weight in relation to height. When the team analyzed the BMI of 53 European countries, they found the obesity rates across all nations would increase over the next 20 years. On the lower end of the spectrum, the researchers estimated that 44 percent of men from Belgium and 47 percent of men from the Netherlands would be classified as overweight or obese by 2030. While on the higher end of spectrum, the obesity and overweight rates in England were expected to rise to 75 percent for men. While in the Czech Republic, Spain, and Poland, 80 percent of men would be categorized as obese or overweight by 2030. Overall, the study projected the lowest male obesity rate in Romania at 10 percent.
The study was presented in Amsterdam at the EuroPRevent conference and was led by Dr. Laura Webber. The team used statistical models based on available data regarding BMI trends in the WHO’s European countries. Webber urged Ireland, the United Kingdom, and other countries where obesity rates could reach epidemic levels by 2030 to reduce their intake of sugary snacks and drinks, while increasing daily consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as promoting more active lifestyles.
The researchers stated that the growing obesity rates in Ireland that are expected to reach epidemic levels by 2030 were linked to unhealthy foods that are high in sugar and fats, heavily processed foods, as well as a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, the researchers suspect these rates were underestimated since they do not account for overweight or obese children. Moreover, the increasing rates of weight gain have prompted concerns because obesity could potentially lead to many other health conditions and complications, such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels, heart health issues, arthritis, and various mobility issues.
By Leigh Haugh
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