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Old 01-20-2005, 10:55 AM   #1
Jeremy Jones
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http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=541&ncid=751&e=6&u=/ap/20050120/ ap_on_he_me/eu_obesity

Europe is not going to end up with the Obesity epidemic we have here in the U.S. I bet a lot of this stems from the National Health Care system - More un-healthy people means more Health care costs.


I wonder how effective their task force is going to be?
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Old 01-20-2005, 11:17 AM   #2
Jeremy Jones
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For those who are lazy (like me) and don't want to follow the link.

EU to Start Taking Obesity Seriously

1 hour, 22 minutes ago Health - AP


By RAF CASERT, Associated Press Writer

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union (news - web sites) said Thursday it will bring the food and advertising industry together with health officials to contain the increasing problem of obesity in Europe, where one out of every four children is obese.


AFP/File Photo


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As part of the policy, EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou wants to keep junk food ads away from children.


"The idea is that, along with other policies and action, children are protected from direct marketing and advertising convincing them and inducing them to consume too much of this product," he said in an interview with Associated Press Television News.


Kyprianou also called for a special forum on obesity in March, which would set self-regulatory standards by the end of the year. In initial talks on the issue, the industry has been cooperative, officials said.


The challenge is growing by the year, Kyprianou said. "One in every four children is obese. this mean future health problems," he said, highlighting the problems were worst in southern Europe.


The Commissioner fears the 25-nation European Union will be going the same way as the United States. "We made fun of Americans in a way. It is a European problem now," Kyprianou said in an interview with London's Financial Times.


The European Food Safety Authority found last year that Europeans eat less of the most dangerous, cholesterol-raising fats than Americans do, and the amount is decreasing. Still, children keep getting fatter in Europe.


In the United States, authorities have already ordered food companies to produce more detailed labeling to warn consumers of dangerous, fattening products.


There is pressure for the EU to do the same and there are already anti-obesity drives in several EU nations.


France has banned soda and junk food vending machines from schools.


In most European countries, more than half of the population is overweight or obese. Countries in central and eastern Europe, which joined the European Union this month, have the worst problem, according to the International Obesity Task Force.




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Old 01-20-2005, 11:18 AM   #3
Peter Galloway
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As far as I know, Jeremy, Britain is the only European country to have a National Health Service - continental European countries have private healthcare like in the States.

What is certainly true is that obesity and obesity-related illness is one of the biggest drains upon the NHS in Britain.

There is now the beginnings of a drive in the U.K to raise awareness of the risks of unhealthy eating habits, but in my opinion these campaigns always seem to miss the point somewhat. They are always focussed on one aspect of diet that needs to be changed; "Eat Less Salt", "Eat More Fruit" etc. This is all fine advice, and obviously beneficial, but I think it avoids the fact that a sedentary lifestyle is just as dangerous as unhealthy eating, and can fool people into thinking they have adopted a healthy lifestyle by cutting down on salt.

Sadly, the real trouble is that fewer and fewer kids are involved in sports. There is now a similar culture of litigation in the UK to the US, and many public schools have abandoned any organised sport for this reason. Added to this is the phenomenon of impoverished education authorities selling off school playing fields to raise funds, a government that spends about a tenth as much on sport as the European average, and, in one instance, a school which banned sport because the head did not want to encourage "competitiveness" amongst the pupils (!), and you have a bleak situation for the country's future health (and, more importantly, sporting success!:wink:)
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Old 01-20-2005, 02:34 PM   #4
Roger Harrell
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Interesting point is I just finished reading Sting's memoir "Broken Music" and in his first trip to New York he ordered a chef's salad at a diner (cause that's all he could afford) and when they brought it he though he had made a mistake and ordered a family plate. This of course was in the late 70's early 80's. Portions in Europe have shifted upwards as well.
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Old 01-21-2005, 01:09 PM   #5
Ron Nelson
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Funny how the U.S. is always pointed at by the Euros (not the U.K.) as being fat, lazy slobs when in reality, they just want to be like us!
I live in the UK for 4 months a long time ago and I lost 20 lbs. I think it was the combination of "English Cuisine" and the fact I had to walk about a mile to some of my classes at college.
Luckily, the pub was close by and on the way to class!
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Old 01-21-2005, 06:03 PM   #6
Jeremy Jones
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Thanks for the clarification Peter. I thought more countries had Nationalized healthcare (like Germany).

Wasn't it the UK who was going to institute a 'Fat Tax' where excessively fatty foods and junk foods would have an extra tax to accommodate the increase in healthcare costs?
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Old 01-21-2005, 07:32 PM   #7
Pat Janes
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We still have a Nationalised healthcare system in Australia (Medicare), but I'm not seeing it help in the health and fitness of our population.

Most of the kids I know these days (35, and I'm already doing the whole "when I was a lad", thing) are just plain lazy.

They would rather sit at the X-Box and play cricket/tennis/soccer than go out in the backyard and do the real thing.

I remember spending about 95% of my free time outside, running around doing something sport-related when I was a kid and most kids I knew were the same.

Diet is much the same. Everything's all pre-packaged and easy; comes in either a box or a tin.

There have been a number of campaigns to alter people's eating/exercise habits here over the years, but they have been entirely ineffectual.

Anyway, enough of my prematurely old man's rant...
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Old 01-22-2005, 09:47 AM   #8
Jason Erickson
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Just an observation but I visited several southern European countries throughout the spring and summer last year. I saw plenty of overweight people. Exercise does not seem to be a big part of the European lifestyle besides maybe soccer, walking or riding a bicycle around town. On the other hand I have to say that on several visits to Australia a few years ago I noticed that there were many people out running, gyms were pretty common and every city seemed to have a vibrant athletics culture.
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Old 01-22-2005, 12:57 PM   #9
Peter Galloway
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OK, so I just spoke to my brother (who knows a lot about this sort of thing) and he tells me that in fact most European countries DO have a National healthcare service. My bad! :blush:

In my defence, I've been treated in a few hospitals in Continental Europe (don't ask - I've had some very unlucky holidays!) and have always had to pay for the treatment. Jeremy, my apologies for the innaccurate information.

As for the "fat tax", that idea has been put forward, although it is unlikely to come to fruition. Although I guess it wouldn't be a bad idea in theory, I am loathe to see too much government interference in people's everyday lives.

If the government really wanted to do some good, they should spend far more on developing sports facilities, and supporting the next generation of star athletes. We need success at the top echelons to inspire youngsters to take up sports. Sort of like a "supply-side economics" approach to solving health problems.
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Old 01-23-2005, 03:54 AM   #10
Pwyll ap Stifin
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Peter, you're right most EU countries have a nationalised health service (most in a far better state than ours in Britain), but in nearly all treatment for non-citizens has to be paid for. I agree with what seems to be the sentiment of the posts above, that medical health, diet etc. is actually a fairly small part of the process of getting, and keeping fit. Regularly playing sports for enjoyment, not just competition is the answer.
Incidentaly Ron, Britain actually has the highest rate of obesity in Europe. Personally I think this may have something to do with how much we drink as well as the prevalance of junk foods and ready meals in our diets, many other european countries have traditions of good cooking (Italy, France etc) where junk food, though eaten, is bland and tasteless in comparison to traditional foods. From my experience, no Western European countries have particularirly impressive rates of participation in sport amongst the population at large.
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