Credit: Freepik

SYRI Researchers Recommend Dietary Changes To Tackle Obesity In The Czech Republic

Almost 70% of men and 50% of women over the age of 18 are overweight in the Czech Republic. Photo credit: Freepik.

Brno, Apr 20 (BD) – Data from the recently released World Obesity Atlas suggests that almost 70% of men and 50% of women over the age of 18 are currently overweight in the Czech Republic, while 22% of men and 18% of women are obese. According to Maika Ohno, a Japanese scientist from the SYRI National Institute, the main reason behind the problem is the Czech diet, which consists of few vegetables and a lot of sugar.

The Czech Republic is currently among the 10 most obese countries in the European Union, defining obesity as a body-mass index (BMI) equal to or higher than 30. Obesity is considered a risk factor for many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver.

“This will definitely have an impact on the national health care system,” said Ohno, who, within SYRI, is researching how the recent pandemic has affected diet and food choices in relation to geo-social characteristics.

The biggest concern is childhood obesity, which has long-term consequences and is accompanied by physical and psychological problems. “Similar to adult obesity, obese children are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease and more,” said Ohno. “Obesity also affects self-esteem and emotional well-being.”

The increasing trend in obesity is forecast to continue in the coming years. According to the latest World Obesity Atlas 2023, the predicted prevalence of obesity among adults in the Czech Republic will be 35% in 2035, which is classified as high. It is estimated that approximately 40% of men and over 30% of women will be obese. Obesity in boys will increase to a full quarter of the population; for girls it is expected to be less than 15%.

“The differences in obesity between the sexes are particularly large in the Czech Republic compared to other EU countries. The prevalence of obesity in men is generally higher than in women, but in the Czech Republic this difference is much bigger,” said Ohno.

Obesity is a multifactorial disease, meaning it is caused by the interaction between environment, lifestyle and genetic factors. Obesity is generally caused by an imbalance between total calorie intake and usage. Too much calorie intake coupled with insufficient movement to burn calories results in becoming overweight, which leads to obesity. 

One of the main factors affecting our weight is diet. “Eating large amounts of food containing high fat and sugar and drinking large amounts of sugary drinks and alcohol contribute to the development of obesity. The prevalence of obesity is higher in people with lower educational attainment and in lower socio-economic groups,” said Ohno.

“The obesity epidemic is therefore a complex problem and obesity should be seen as a disease,” continued Ohno, drawing a comparison with her home country of Japan, where the incidence of obesity is low, at around 5.5%.

“As for food consumption, the consumption of fish and vegetables in Japan is much higher than in the Czech Republic,” says Ohno. “Conversely, meat consumption in the Czech Republic is 1.6 times higher than in Japan. Alcohol consumption is also high in the Czech Republic.”

Ohno advises reducing foods high in sugar and fat and eating more vegetables, legumes and fruits. The World Health Organisation’s recommendation for daily sugar intake is just 25g, or two tablespoons. “A can of regular cola (330 ml) contains 35g of sugar, so it is very easy to consume more than 25g of sugar per day. In Japan, we are taught from childhood that we should eat 30 different foods a day,” Ohno concluded. “How many foods do you eat per day? Beer doesn’t count!”

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