Belgium hit by increasing levels of obesity

Belgium hit by increasing levels of obesity
Credit: Belga

Belgium is hit by increasing levels of obesity, so health experts launched the "Obesity Platform Belgium (OPB)" on Friday.

"We will generate proposals on the course of care for obese children and adults," said Bart Van der Schueren, President of the Belgian Association for the Study of Obesity, in Le Soir.

The uptake in obesity is part of a growing trend. The WHO released a report which shows that overweight and obesity affect nearly 60% of the adult population across the European region, with nearly one in three children hit.

The Belgian rate for people who are overweight or obese stands at 59.5%, in line with the European average. Men are worse off than women, with a rate of 67.5% compared to 51.4%, respectively. One in four Belgian children and six in ten adults are overweight.

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Obesity is the fourth most common risk factor in the European region, after high blood pressure, dietary risks and tobacco. Excess weight can be a risk factor for other diseases such as diabetes.

Tackling prejudice

However, despite the importance of the issue, health experts believe that the world has an overly simplistic view of the issue.

People think that the matter can be solved by eating less and exercising more, but that flawed reasoning can lead to ill-informed decisions, inaccurate recommendations and an unproductive distribution of limited resources.

The platform's mission is to combat prejudice and myths surrounding obesity and inform political leaders about the nature of the disease and how to treat it.

Overweight and obesity are strongly linked to socio-economic and education status, according to Belgian health services, with Wallonia the worst affected region. The WHO report stressed the need to tackle obesogenic environments, areas with high concentrations of fast food outlets or districts that encourage driving over walking.

Van der Schueren hopes to have a greater policy impact by the health experts speaking with one voice around the topic. "Now is the time, now that obesity is on Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke's list of priorities for 2022-2024," said the OPB.

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