We’ve all heard of the ‘Mediterranean diet‘.
Based on the once-low obesity levels of the region’s counties, thanks to their high consumption of healthy foods such as fish, vegetables, olive oil and fruit, it’s a diet (and a lifestyle) that seemed appealing to the masses.
But now, some very contradictory research has proved the countries that have given their name to the famous diet actually have the biggest childhood obesity problems.
Data collected as part of the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative of the World Health Organisation’s European region, showed that the Med-coastal countries have the fattest children in Europe.
Shockingly, in Cyprus a massive 43% of boys and girls aged nine are either overweight or obese.
Other Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy also have rates of over 40%.
The data is taken from 40 counties involved, who were required to submit height and weight data for their children between 2015 and 2017.
Dr Joao Breda, head of the WHO European office for prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, spoke at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.
He said: “The Mediterranean diet for the children in these countries is gone.
“There is no Mediterranean diet any more. Those who are close to the Mediterranean diet are the Swedish kids. The Mediterranean diet is gone and we need to recover it.”
He explained that sweets, junk food and sugary drinks have replaced the fish and olive oil, fruit and vegetables which were synonymous with the diet.
Children in Sweden, Denmark, France, Norway, Ireland and Latvia have among the lowest rates of obesity, ranging from 5% to 9%.
The UK did not partake in the research but it is thought one in five children are overweight by the time they leave primary school.
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