ATHENS – So much for the Mediterranean Diet. Greek children aged 7-9 have the highest average body weight among 16 European countries surveyed by the World Health Organization, according to data made public Oct. 21.
With more people turning to fast foods and the availability of snack foods, Greeks are increasingly become overweight, particularly the young.
Just under 49 percent of 7-year-old Greek boys and nearly 45 percent of girls the same age are overweight, according to the figures released by the Hellenic Medical Association for Obesity to mark the start of obesity awareness week.
The fattest are 9-year-old boys, some 57.2 percent who are overweight compared to 50 percent of girls in the same age group as they abandon healthy Greek foods for fattening foods.
The data show that the problem is more pronounced in low-income families who either can’t afford to buy better foods or don’t have the know-how to understand what’s good for them.
Greece, along with Italy, Slovenia and the USA, are the countries covered by the Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development in Paris with the highest rates of child obesity.
Childhood obesity could occur of biological causes or obese parents, few hours of sleep, lack of exercise, and dietary restrictions, the report said, with children especially liking sweets and sugary foods.
Greek children are also fatter because they don’t exercise and there are few organized sports or physical education activities in schools. They exercise little more than three hours a week but watch 48 hours of TV and become couch potatoes.
Research conducted by the Laboratory of Nutrition and Epidemiology of Medical School in Crete for the prevention of obesity, showed that children which watch more than 3 hours of TV everyday have a higher body mass index, more body fat and a 74% greater chance of experiencing increased waistlines, ProtoThema reported.
The same conclusion reached and the study of an international magazine International Journal of Obesity, whereby children aged 4 watch 2.4 hours of television per day gain 1,600 calories while children that watch half of the above gain 1,400. The 200 calorie difference translated into extra body weight about 5 kilograms (11.02 pounds) per year.