EU to blame for Europe's growing obesity epidemic 'by encouraging import of cheap calorie-laden food'
27 member states have high supplies of meat and dairyLower prices on calorie-laden goodsMore than half the EU population are now overweight
A study has found the EU could be to blame for Europe's growing obesity epidemic
The EU could be to blame for Europe's growing obesity epidemic, say scientists.
A study found that because of lower import tariffs, the 27 member states have higher supplies of red meat and dairy compared to non-members.
The Union members also place lower prices on calorie-laden goods, increasing the risk of obesity.
A recent Eurostat report found that more than half the EU population are now overweight or obese.
During the new study esearchers looked at dietary habits in Portugal pre-and post-EU membership.
Before the country became a member state in 1986 the Portuguese ate local produce, with diets rich in fish and olive oil.
However after joining the EU, many ditched traditional foods and turned to cheap meat, cheese and grains that
flooded in from other member states.
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Pedro Marques-Vidal from Lausanne University in Switzerland said: 'After entering the EU, the prices of meat and milk products were reduced in Germany, Italy, France, and Portugal.
'As a result of these lower prices consumption increased and the EU citizens put on weight.'
The study has been backed by other scientists, including Switzerland's Preventative Medicine Centre.
David Fah, from Zurich University, said that the findings highlight potential risks of joining the EU. Switzerland is not an EU member and currently
has one of the lowest obesity rates in Europe at around 8 per cent.
He said: The Swiss eat more vegetables, fish, olive oil and less red meat.
'If we joined the EU, the consumption of red meat would increase.'
The 27 member states were found to have higher supplies of red meat and dairy compared to non-members
In the late 1990s, the wheat price was at a record low driven down by inexpensive fuel and taxpayers' farm subsidies in the EU.
This spread of cheap food encouraged obesity levels to soar to one billion for the first time.
An EU Environment and Health
Commission spokesperson Jo Leinen said: 'We know obesity is a problem in
the EU – we have named it a threat to the public health.'
Obesity is recognised as a global epidemic and the most prevalent metabolic disease worldwide.
A person is considered obese if they are carrying too much body fat for their height and sex, demonstrating a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
The Foresight report, has predicted
that by 2025, nearly half of men and over a third of women will be
obese, increasing the risk of chronic diseases, including type 2
diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain
forms of cancer.