Obesity is a serious health threat all over the world, but more so in Hungary. A recent publication by WHO shows that Hungary is the most obese nation in all of Europe. Globally, it’s ranked fourth behind only the United States, Mexico and England.
Even more frightening is the fact that the rate of obesity has been increasing steadily in the past years. In 2010, only about 28.5% of the adult population in Hungary was obese. By 2017, the rate had increased to more than 30%.
Major Contributors to Obesity in Hungary
One thing that emerges from the investigation is that income inequality is a major contributor of obesity. A different survey, which was conducted as part of the WHO Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, seems to support this conclusion. The study revealed that obesity rates (9.8%) were higher among the Hungarian rural population than the urban population (7%).
Another likely cause of obesity, especially among the youth, was sedentary behavior. Based on this survey, only 20% of kids aged between 12 and 18 years met the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise in Hungary. According to Jon Muller, author of a new report on Sedentary Lifestyle Worldwide, a sedentary lifestyle increases death rate by 71% and the risk of developing alzheimers by up to 12 times later in life.
The Health Consequences of Obesity
Apart from lowering the quality of life, obesity dramatically decreases an individual’s lifespan. The University of Oxford found that moderate obesity shortens your life expectancy by up to 3 years. It gets worse if you suffer from severe obesity, as this can shave 10 years off your average lifespan.
Richard Peto, a study researcher of the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford reports that severe obesity has the same effect as smoking when it comes to mortality rates.
Furthermore, obesity has been linked to several health conditions such as diabetes. In one study done by Public Health England, it was found that individuals who were slightly overweight had twice the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Hungarians diagnosed with obesity are also at a risk of developing high blood pressure. Having excessive weight is believed to raise one’s blood pressure because it forces the heart to work harder when supplying blood to all the cells.
Not only does the obesity epidemic cause numerous health effects, but it also has vast economic applications. This stems from the direct medical expenses that result from treating obesity-related conditions like diabetes and stroke.
Turning the Tide on Obesity
The good news is: there are several strategies that Hungary can use to lower obesity rates. One of these is to lower consumption of calories. In countries like Japan where the adult obesity rate stands at less than 6%, individuals consume 200 fewer calories than those living in the most obese countries.
Another thing that can help is making healthier food choices. The Japanese diet is the perfect example of this. It’s high in vegetables and fish; and is very low in calories.
Vegetables are chock-full of nutrients that are essential for healthy weight management.
Similarly, the Japanase prefer fish to red meat, which has higher amounts of calories. To put this into perspective, consider a cooked 4-ounce portion of cod to a grilled portion of T-bone steak of the same quantity. The fish contains 26 grams of protein, one gram of fat and only 120 calories. By comparison, the red meat has 28 grams protein, 18 grams of fat and 278 calories. This goes to show how diet impacts the rate of obesity in a country.
Worldwide, obesity has become a major health concern with countries like Hungary registering one of the highest rates. The worst bit is that it affects both the health of individuals and the economy due to increased spending on healthcare.
Fortunately, Hungary and other nations with high obesity rates can adopt policies to curb this epidemic.
A good place to start would be to encourage their citizens to consume fewer calories and make healthier food choices.