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Fat Drunk Smokers: Europe Closes In On America For World’s Most Obese Region

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation

Americans may soon lose the title of the world’s most obese people if Europeans maintain their habits of heavy drinking, smoking and overeating. A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the majority of Europeans are now obese or overweight.

According to WHO, 59 percent of Europe’s population is either overweight or obese. Furthermore, the report found that Europe had the highest level of tobacco and alcohol use in the world, with dependency running at 4 percent.

Despite European alcohol consumption falling by 10 percent between 2005 and 2010, the continent managed to drink its way to the top of the WHO’s rankings. Most European Union countries averaged consumption of nine and 12 liters per capita.

According to a Gallup survey released in January, America’s obesity rate stands at 27.7 percent – a rise of 1.2 percentage points since 2008. The climbing obesity rate came in spite of first lady Michelle Obama’s much vaunted “Let’s Move” initiative intended to get Americans more active and losing weight. The classification of overweight is having a body-mass index of 25 or higher. In total, those who are both obese and overweight comes to 69 percent. (RELATED: Big Government Can’t Stop Rise In Obesity Rate)

Most European Union countries averaged consumption of nine and 12 liters per capita. As for tobacco, Russia, Georgia and Greece smoked topped the tables with more than 50 percent men classified as regular smokers. The international organization warned that things had gotten so bad that Europe’s youth “may not live as long as their grandparents.”

The European report is a triennial affair that covers 53 countries. WHO regional director for Europe Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab said:

This report shows heartening progress. But there is a very real risk that these gains will be lost if smoking and alcohol consumption continue at the current rate.

European life expectancy rose from an average of 73.2 years in 1990 to 76.8 in 2011, the study found. There is good news on premature deaths, with the rate set to fall by 1.5 percent per year until 2020. However, there remain substantial health inequalities across the continent. The difference in life expectancy between the healthiest and least healthy countries amounted to 11 years (RELATED: Study: Marijuana Users Less Vulnerable To Obesity And Diabetes)

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