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More than half of the Austrian population is overweight

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More than half of the Austrian population is overweight

Currently, just over half of adults and around a quarter of children and young people are overweight (body mass index/BMI 25 to 29) or obese (BMI from 30). Men are more commonly affected in all age groups and the frequency increases sharply with age, it was emphasized in a press release on Thursday.

More men affected than women

Specifically, 41 percent of men in Austria are overweight and 18 percent are obese. The proportion of women is slightly lower, with 27 percent overweight and 15 percent obese. But the health problem begins with the youngest children: even among nine-year-olds, more than 31 percent of boys and 29 percent of girls are overweight or obese. “As a society, we simply cannot afford for chronic illness to affect more and more parts of the population,” warned Andreas Huss, deputy chairman of the ÖGK.

Prevention and health literacy

“Obesity is a very stressful disease for the people affected and for society, which leads to many secondary illnesses and reduced quality of life early in life,” he explained. Therefore, prevention but also improving health literacy in terms of nutrition, exercise and psychology is extremely important. Politics and the food industry are also called upon. “Highly processed and disease-causing foods must be clearly labeled. Because there is no such thing as a healthy chocolate bar,” said Huss.

“Chronic disease”

“Obesity is a chronic disease in which many different factors interact in its development and progression. These include lifestyle aspects such as diet and exercise, but in around 70 percent of those affected also genetic factors,” explained doctor Florian Kiefer. In addition to stigmatization and psychological consequences, there are secondary diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, increased blood pressure, increased blood lipid levels, heart attack, stroke or dementia, reported the President of the Austrian Obesity Alliance.

Consequences for society

The personal effects for those affected are serious, but also for society, the economy and the health system. OECD forecasts for Europe show that obesity will reduce Austria’s GDP by an average of 2.5 percent per year between 2020 and 2050. Indirect costs such as sick leave and early retirement are also included here. The ÖGK offers the “Living Easier” program for adults and “Living Easier – Kids & Teens”.

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