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Most Europeans are overweight and obesity is rising in the continent, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization, a development that undermines a long-held belief that Europeans are fitter than most of the rest of the world, especially Americans, Bloomberg reported.

In a new report, the United Nations agency declared there was an “obesity epidemic” after discovering that 59 percent of European adults had an overly high body-mass index in 2016. The findings also showed that one-third of children faced the same issue.

In comparison, almost 74 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Britain and Turkey are among Europe’s most overweight countries. Meanwhile, WHO officials said unhealthy food consumption increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

No country in the region is on track to reduce obesity rates by 2025 and obesity prevalence in Europe is higher than in any other part of the world except the Americas, the Guardian added.

The WHO also warned that obesity was responsible for around 1.2 million deaths annually in Europe – accounting for 13 percent of mortality on the continent.

WHO officials urged governments to act swiftly: Proposed measures include a sugar tax on sugary drinks and subsidies for healthy food.

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