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Ireland will be the Fattest European Nation by 2030

Update Date: May 10, 2014 10:59 AM EDT

Even though health experts have stressed the importance of maintaining a good weight and an active lifestyle, new data suggest that obesity rates in Europe are rising. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UK Health Forum, by 2030, Ireland could become Europe's fattest nation.

For this study, the researchers defined obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. People with a BMI of 25 to 30 would be considered overweight. BMI measures weight in relation to height. When the team analyzed the BMI of 53 European countries, they found that the obesity rates across all nations would increase over the next two decades. On the lower end of the spectrum, the researchers estimated that by 2030, 44 percent of men from Belgium and 47 percent of men from the Netherlands would be classified as overweight or obese. In England, the obesity and overweight rate is expected to rise to 75 percent for men while in the Czech Republic, Spain and Poland, eight out of 10 men could be categorized as obese or overweight by 2030.

"Our study presents a worrying picture of rising obesity across Europe. Policies to reverse this trend are urgently needed," said the UK Health Forum's Dr. Laura Webber, lead author of the study reported by NPR. "There is no silver bullet for tackling this. We need a comprehensive package of approaches to support healthy eating and more physical activity in daily life."

When the researchers examined Irish people's BMI, they found that almost 90 percent of men and 84 percent of women could be grouped as overweight or obese. The researchers stated that the rise in obesity is caused by unhealthy foods that are high in sugar and fats and a sedentary lifestyle. The researchers believe that these rates are underestimated since they did not account for overweight or obese children. The increasing rates are alarming because obesity can lead to many other health conditions.

"We need policies to improve the nutritional content of processed foods by reducing sugars and fats and we need to help consumers understand what is in the food they eat," Dr. Webber added according to the Telegraph. "We need to make healthier food more affordable and less healthy food less so, by using taxes on sugary drinks for example and subsidies on fruit and vegetables."

The study was presented at the EuroPRevent Congress located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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