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Childhood Obesity Prominent in Greece

According to the latest data from the OECD Greece and Italy are the champions when it comes to childhood obesity.

Most people in OECD countries are overweight or obese. The social and economic consequences of this epidemic are dramatic, exposing an increasing number of people to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

New OECD data and analysis reveal that obesity levels have continued to rise in most countries over the past five years, but more slowly than before. Obesity has been virtually stable in England, Italy, Korea, and the United States but has increased by 2-3% in Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland.

One in five children is overweight, on average, in OECD countries, but rates are as high as one in three in countries like Greece, Italy, Slovenia and the US. However, more countries have managed to stabilize or even slightly reduce rates of child obesity than they have of adult obesity.

OECD data show that obesity is also an inequality issue, especially in women. The economic crisis has made families spend less on food, but poor households have also switched to junk foods with high calories.

This is also the reason why Greek boys, who have turned away from the famous Mediterranean diet and into fast and junk food, have been steadily gaining weight. But in countries with very high levels of obesity, such as Mexico and the US, people with more education are now as likely to be obese as those with less education.

In 2008, Josef Schmidhuber of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization said traditional eating patterns in southern Europe had "decayed into a moribund state" and drastically increased their overall calorie intake and especially consumption of animal fat, salt, and sweeteners.