Bulgarians stop escalators to mark first European Obesity Day

17:36, May 22, 2010      

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Escalators in some of the largest Bulgarian shopping centers are stopped for three days starting on Friday and people have to use stairs during the period, as the country is marking the first European Obesity Day.

This Day, which falls on Saturday across Europe, aims to motivate and support overweight European citizens to reach and maintain a healthy weight to improve their quality of life.

"If overweight and obese citizens lose 5 percent to 10 percent of their overall body weight, they will reduce the risk of diabetes by 58 percent, and the risk of cardiovascular disease -- by 48 percent in men, and 40 percent in women," Svetoslav Handjiev, head of the Bulgarian Association for the Study of Obesity and Related Diseases, told reporters.

In the Mall of Sofia, one of the main escalators was stopped between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., while doctor volunteers helped passers- by to measure their blood pressure, waist circumference and body mass index free of charge. The activity will last through Sunday.

Almost every of those checked people met good health standards, the doctors told Xinhua.

However, the "on-site statistics" don't match the official data so well.

Doctors have warned that obesity has become an epidemic in Bulgaria, where overweight people, according to the National Statistical Institute, are 49.5 percent of the total population -- 56.7 percent of men and 43 percent of women. Moreover, 11.3 percent of men and 10.9 percent of women are believed to have the obesity problem.

A survey conducted in 2008 showed that 30.6 percent of the Bulgarian children in the first grade were overweight, while in 1998 the figure was 23.3 percent.

Source: Xinhua


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