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A state of emergency has been recently put on European Union agenda. In the next ten years, European countries will be "on diet". The EU countries have to manage an alarming situation: high rate of obesity and overweight. It seems that all America's weight-loss problems along with diets and any kind of dieting pills crossed the Ocean. European countries borrowed bad habits from Americans
Along with foods, Americans have brought the whole picture to the "Old continent": fad diets and related-weigh loss problems, dieting pills and dietary supplements. According to International Obesity Task Force, the prevalence of obesity has grown by up by 10 to 40 percent in most European countries from 1993 to 2003. It is an alarming statement. 30% of people living in the European Union are overweight and more than one in ten is now obese, according to EASO. Not surprisingly, a war against obesity has started recently. European officials are worried specifically about childhood obesity since children with "weight problems" are three to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or even stroke before the age of 65. Although this problem is not as urgent as the American issue, the forecasts are ruthless. The battle against obesity
When overweight and obesity are on the agenda,
* fast food and modern unhealthy eating habits (too many sweets and refined foods) * a sedentary lifestyle
are often quoted. Officials of the European Union are worried because obesity brings along related problems such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Unfortunately,70.000 cases are added each year, while heart disorders are already the leading cause of death in the European Union: half of all deaths are caused by heart disease.
Since the issue became so urgent, the EU was prompted to apply a "fight-plan" against obesity for the next ten years. Experts have decided in the recent European Congress of Obesity that the new fight-front should proceed on four major ways:
1. governments 2. NGOs 3. food industry 4. consumers themselves.
Additionally, two pathways can be involved in this effort:
* television * computer industry.
They are to induce and educate nationwide a well-balanced eating regimen and promote physical activity and regular exercise (schools included). A direct and sharp link to the new way of eating (fast food, biscuits, high carbohydrate foods, fatty products) hasn't been established precisely. It is argued though that giving up old healthy habits proved a significant overweight factor. Thus, obesity has been declared "public enemy number one" in the European Union. Portugal case study
Anorectic teenagers and obese middle-aged people - this is happening nowadays only in Portugal. It is a strange situation, the least to say. Nearly two-fifths of all Portuguese of 18 to 65 are overweight and no less than 15 percent are already obese while over 8% of all 18 and 19 year olds are extremely thin (twice than in the same age group in 1995). These facts were released in September 2004, after a study had been carried out and cited by Agency France-Presse. What do these two statistics disclose?
1. on one hand, the health of people of 18 to 65 (active Portugaese) is highly threatened by heart disease, stroke and diabetes 2. on the other hand, many teens of Portugal suffer from eating disorders (it is argued that they have a repulsive reaction to obesity and they are obsessed with their look).
As the Portuguese have changed their eating habits lately, adding more sweets and fatty foods into their meals, the obesity range highly increased. A review of their eating habits reveals that many people go to work with no breakfast. Around ten o’clock in the morning there is the "coffee break", which is usually taken with a lot of sweet cakes, rolls, croissants. Lunch is regularly around one o’clock and means meat (codfish, veal, pork, chicken, rabbit) and potatoes (raw vegetables are rarely eaten). Another coffee break is around five o’clock. Dinner is at eight and consists of meat primarily. The Portuguese eat soup often but after a meal, not before. The famous caldo verde soup is preferred, in spite of the fact that it contains a potentially lethal piece of cholesterol rich sausage.
Besides, Portugal is invaded by fast food, especially hamburger outlets like McDonalds. Not only large cities, but also small towns have a McDonalds. Not to mention the other fast-food outlets, which make things worse for the Portuguese.
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