According to a report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe has the highest rates of drinking and smoking, and also reports that more than half of the continent is overweight, increasing their risk of heart disease, cancers and other health issues.
WHO announced that the rates of obesity, tobacco use and alcohol consumption “remain alarmingly high”. Claudia Stein, Europe’s head of Information, Evidence, Research and Innovation for WHO expressed that “Europeans drink and smoke more than anyone else. We are world champions – and it’s not a good record”.
The reports also give detail on the matter of obesity, with just under 60% of people in the WHO’s European region are either overweight or obese, and 30% use tobacco. It is also stated that around 11 litres of pure alcohol are drunk per person per year.
It is feared that young people are at high risk as their lives may be shortened if things do not improve. WHO’s European Regional director, Zsuzsanna Jakab mentioned that young people are at high risk and that these statistics are, “especially relevant to young people, who may not live as long as their grandparents.”.
However, the report found that life expectancy is increasing across Europe and the region is heading towards reducing premature mortality by 1.5% a year until 2020. This premature mortality includes cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases.
Zsuzsanna Jakab commended the improvements, but warned that; “There is a very real risk that these gains will be lost if smoking and alcohol consumption continue at the current rate.”.
As stated by WHO’s research and statistics, “16% of all deaths in adults over 30 in the WHO European Region were due to tobacco.”. This is extremely high when contrasted with Eastern Mediterranean and African Regions with 7% and 3% of tobacco-related deaths and also with the global average which stands at 12%. The findings also indicate that in the Region, 22% of women smoke, another high stat when compared to women in Asia, the Middle East and Africa with a 3-5% prevalence.
According to the report, more than half of men smoke in Armenia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Turkey, while alcohol consumption is highest in Moldova, Luxembourg, Estonia and the Czech Republic. Andy Haines, professor of public health and primary care at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that, “A lot of work needs to be done. That’s partly a matter of pricing.”.
The report also looks at vaccination rates, a hot topic at the moment, and found the regional coverage to be fairly good. The average immunisation coverage for measles rose from 93.4% in 2010, to 93.7% in 2011 and 94.6% in 2012 and is still increasing. However the reports stress the consequences of gaps in immunity across the population, “still account for ongoing endemic transmission and have led to a number of outbreaks of measles and rubella in recent years.”.