Cyprus among top in EU for child obesity

Children in Cyprus are among the most unfit in Europe, while one in two (49%) aged 7-9 years old struggle with obesity, research presented on Thursday to the House Health Committee showed.

A Children’s Health Institute found that since 1995, child obesity in Cyprus increased by 13%.

At the same time, European studies carried out since 2007, in which Cyprus participates with another seven countries, showed that Cyprus was second to last, behind Italy regarding child obesity.

Furthermore, in the study, Cyprus was found to have the least fit female children and was second to last after Italy in boys. Additionally, one in three students had higher than normal cholesterol levels.

“We have to get serious, realize how dangerous the situation is, and each one of us has to work for his family and those near him,” president of the Children’s Health Institute, Dr Michael Tornaritis said.

Eliza Markidou, President of the Quality of Life Committee, said that the data is particularly concerning, stressing that the pandemic has exacerbated the problem since children had to stay at home for long periods of time.

House Health Committee members were also presented with the results of another study of a total of 40 countries, which showed that Cyprus has the highest percentage of child obesity among the participants, with a 49% among children aged 7-9.

Furthermore, according to data submitted to Parliament, deriving from the latest report of the World Health Organization, Cyprus ranks first in child obesity in all sectors among the European countries of WHO.

Markidou accused the Health Ministry of stalling the implementation of measures to combat child obesity.

“An action plan has been prepared since 2015 and is being updated every year but so far it has not been approved by the Health Ministry so its implementation will begin,” she said.

“Obesity is a disease and we highlight that today’s actions will prevent tomorrow’s diabetic and heart patients,” the president of the pediatric company Michael Anastasiades added.

On behalf of the Education and Health Ministry, officers presented preventive programs that have been implemented in schools.

A physical education supervisor, who participated in the meeting noted that all policies regarding the matter end up in drawers and are not used. She also stressed that the number of PE classes should increase.

She also said that there is “a lack of political will” to address the issue.

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