Obesity weighs on Greeks

Greeks consider themselves to be the second most obese nation in the European Union and are the least active in the bloc, according to a Eurobarometer survey whose results were made public yesterday. Nearly one in two (49 percent) of Greeks regard themselves as obese, only fractionally less than Luxembourgians (50 percent) and 10 percent above the EU average, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou revealed. According to the survey, Greeks top the EU chart when it comes to sluggishness with 80 percent claiming to do little or no exercise. Nevertheless, 81 percent of respondents claimed to be in «excellent» or «good» health. Kyprianou presented the results of the survey at a press conference attended by several food and soft-drink multinationals who have pledged to cut the sugar, fat and salt levels in their products and promote healthy eating in their advertising. Soft drink manufacturers, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, reportedly have agreed not to advertise their products to children under 12 and to publish more detailed nutritional content on labels. «We are all part of the problem – industry, parents, consumers, the authorities, doctors – and we will have to be part of the solution,» according to Kyprianou, who said the European Commission would implement a strategy to tackle obesity next year. The survey revealed that most Europeans feel trapped in their sedentary lifestyles with the overwhelming majority (90 percent) condemning corporate advertising for exerting a bad influence on children’s eating habits. «Citizens of the EU are aware that there is an obesity problem in Europe and that much depends on their willingness to change their habits,» Kyprianou said. The lowest rate of obesity in the EU, according to the survey, is among Slovakians, 25 percent of whom describe themselves as excessively overweight. Meanwhile the EU’s most active citizens appear to be the Finns, 75 percent of whom claimed to exercise regularly.

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