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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 09:03, March 02, 2006
Half of Europe fat, but see no threat to health
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Half of Europeans are obese or overweight, but citizens do not see obesity as a major health threat, a food industry report said on Tuesday.

According to the report, commissioned by Kraft, the world's second-largest food and beverage company, Europeans view obesity as a problem that affects others, but not themselves.

Of 15 health concerns listed in the report, obesity and being overweight ranked fifth and ninth respectively. Cancer and heart disease topped the poll.

The report, "Understanding the Health Gap," was carried out in partnership with the market research company GfK NOP.

Despite growing child obesity rates, the problem is not a top concern for European mothers. From a list of 14 health concerns regarding their children, "being overweight"and "obesity" ranked equally in sixth place.

On Tuesday, a report by Britain's National Audit Office and others said the government could miss a target to halt the rise of obesity in children by 2010.

Britain has the highest levels of self-reported obese or overweight people in Europe and obesity costs the British taxpayer 1 billion pounds (US$1.75 billion) per year. In 2003, 13.7 per cent of youngsters were obese.

"Childhood obesity is a serious health problem that can follow people much later into life," Healthcare Commission Chief Executive Anna Walker said in the report.

"It is a causal factor in a number of chronic diseases and conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

"If we are serious about tackling childhood obesity, then all government agencies and organisations must work together more effectively."

Walker said the government should be praised for setting such tough targets but said more needed to be done to tackle the problem. She said more guidance was needed locally for schools, parents and health groups.

The report warned that a lack of "timely guidance" meant that organisations that were supposed to be working together had been unclear about their roles.

It also said that key parts of the government's plan to reduce obesity had still not been published despite the initial target being announced in 2004.

British Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said the government knew it had to do more but said huge steps forward had already been taken.

"We know that leadership and co-ordination are going to be crucial as is giving people information and support in making a difference to their own lives," she said in a statement.

These latest reports are sure to be of concern to the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, which will mark the first anniversary of its European platform on diet, nutrition and physical activity next month.

In a bid to cut obesity in the 25-member bloc, the commission has consulted politicians, industry groups and NGOs.

The European report showed that 73 per cent of those surveyed had stated they did not get enough exercise, while less than 50 per cent felt their health was "excellent" or "very good."

Around three quarters of those polled supported labelling products to indicate which ones were better for people and limiting food and beverage marketing aimed at children.

Source: China Daily

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