The World Health Organisation (WHO) European region is a vast geographical area encompassing more than 50 nations across the continent and Central Asia, and stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
In May 2023, the spouses of 16 European leaders and heads of state from this region met in the Croatian capital Zagreb, hosted by Croatia’s First Lady, Dr Sanja Musić Milanović.
12th June 2023
Together, they launched the inaugural Network of Spouses of European Leaders on the Prevention of Childhood Obesity for the WHO European region. At the same time, they adopted the Zagreb Declaration, outlining a clear political commitment to tackling childhood obesity across their area, while also encouraging other nations to do the same.
The WHO European Region Obesity Report from last year says that around a third of primary school-aged children across the area are overweight or obese, a figure that only looks set to go up.
Meanwhile the World Obesity Atlas 2023 predicts that by 2035, there will be a 61% rise in the number of boys living with obesity, while the figure for girls will be 75%. (That rise applies to the years 2020-2035.)
Further, The Atlas reckons that up to 17 million boys plus 11 million girls will be obese across the Region by the same year. By then, across all age groups obesity and being overweight are set to cost the Region $800bn a year.
To help stop the situation from worsening, the WHO in Europe has identified three key priorities:
1. Prevention – Efforts are needed from pregnancy, birth and early years onwards.
2. Food and drink industry regulation – Measures include taxing sugary drinks, clear labelling and limiting advertising and marketing aimed at children.
3. Encouraging physical activity
Dr Milanović told journalists: “Childhood obesity is a disease of epidemic proportions, and negatively affects health and life quality and expectancy. It’s also a significant economic burden. Here at the summit, we have had the chance to demonstrate that it is our common problem. I believe the Zagreb Declaration is an important step, and that with joint action we will improve future generations’ health.”
The links between being overweight or obese and a number of health conditions are well documented – including cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes and chronic respiratory illness, Obesity is also known to be a cause behind various cancer types.
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