A European wide public awareness event has been launched today to raise awareness of the health and lifestyle impact of obesity. The inaugural European Obesity Day details were announced today by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, the Irish Pharmacy Union and the Diabetes Federation of Ireland.
European Obesity Day, which takes place on Saturday 22nd May, aims to drive action at a European level to address the epidemic of obesity and ensure the issues and concerns of overweight and obese patients are better heard and understood. It is also hoped that a focus on obesity will help to raise awareness of the impact of obesity on health and on people’s quality of life and on providing solutions which can help people address their health and lifestyle challenges.
European Obesity Day is an initiative which brings together medical, patient and political communities to support overweight and obese European citizens in making the necessary lifestyle changes to manage their weight and improve their overall health and quality of life. Its objective is to raise awareness of the need for action at European level and to ensure that the voices of overweight and obese patients are heard.
According to the World Health Organization the statistics of obesity in the whole of Europe (not just the EU) are staggering, reaching epidemic proportions. In only two decades this problem has trebled, and if no action is taken there could be an estimated 150 million obese adults (20% of the population) and 15 million obese children and adolescents (10% of the population) in the region by next year (2010). In most countries today, between 30% and 80% of adults are overweight.
Ruth Martin, Brand Manager alli, GlaxoSmithKline, Ireland explains: “Obesity is a real risk to the health of current and future generations. We are working to help raise awareness of the seriousness of this issue and to help raise awareness of the solutions that are available to people who are currently obese. Weight is not a vanity or a beauty issue – it is a health issue and is one that can be addressed if people are willing to take control of their own situation and are given the necessary supports to assist them in their efforts. We have a strong track record of success of working with people who were overweight and obese in Ireland in the past year. By working with us on an alli weight loss programme we have seen significant health improvements and lifestyle changes which have been the result of significant weight loss. There are a number of options open to people who are overweight and obese and it is vital that they are aware of these options and fully understand the detrimental health impact of inaction on their part.”
Darragh O’Loughlin, President of the Irish Pharmacy Union, said: “Pharmacists are ideally positioned to work with the public, provide them with information and assist them in finding solutions to obesity. An ongoing awareness programme is needed to ensure people are continually warned about the dangers of excessive consumption of foods high in fat, sugar and salt and also of the benefits of regular exercise. While the population may be aware of the benefits of healthy eating, evidence would tend to suggest that they may not be aware of the dangers of regular consumption of fatty foods and snacks. This also an opportunity to improve the supports provided to health professionals in obesity prevention and diagnosing and in counselling those at risk of obesity.We fully support this initiative and would encourage all pharmacists to log onto obesityday.eu to find out about what part they can play in addressing this increasing health risk.”
Dr. Anna Clarke of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland said: “Being overweight increases your risk of developing several serious health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. The spread of Type 2 diabetes is a serious risk in this county – the incidence of Type 2 diabetes is currently rising by at least 3.7% annually . Initiatives such as this will assist in raising awareness, encourage people to know their own risk but most importantly become aware of what is a healthy BMI and how to achieve that for the benefit of their health.”
Obesity is endemic in Ireland and this has major implications for future population health and health service provision. Data from Department of Health and Children on self-reported Body Mass Index (BMI) shows an increase in obesity of over 30% for both men and women between 1998 and 2007. 59% of men and 41% of women are now self-reporting as either overweight or obese. At least 2,000 premature deaths a year in Ireland are attributed to obesity and the cost to the state of obesity and associated disease estimated to be approx € 4 billion per annum.
European Obesity Day is supported by a grant from GlaxoSmithKline. People with a BMI >28 can use alli to lose weight and have a healthier lifestyle.