The beginning of this week marked World Obesity Day (March 4th), and Greece maintains a rather unflattering, and more importantly unhealthy position on the lists of more than one global organization collecting data that measures obesity rates.

According to a 2019 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), 37.9% of Greek adults are overweight and 24.9% are obese, with 44% of Greek men and 30.8% of Greek women being overweight. Both sexes show the same rates of obesity: one in four Greek men and one in four Greek women belong to this category.

The issue of obesity is even more concerning in the country considering that Greece ranks first in the EU in childhood obesity, according to Eurostat, while also holding one of the top positions in the EU in adult obesity with 63% of Greeks over the age of 18 being overweight or obese.

In addition, according to the Global Obesity Observatory, Greece was among the top 20 countries in the world for the highest proportion of adult men and boys living with high BMI in 2020 – the WHO considers a body mass index (BMI) of over 25 overweight, and over 30 obese – 74% and 46%, respectively.

According to the Global Obesity Observatory, Greek adult males ranked 43rd in the world, with Tonga, a kingdom of more than 170 South Pacific islands coming in first.

Some argue that this worrying trend could be linked to the fact that Greeks have turned away from the country’s traditional Mediterranean diet, which is considered one of the healthiest in the world, embracing instead a Western diet that incorporates fewer fruits and vegetables and more fast food and processed products.

Obesity is linked to a range of health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancers. Although awareness on the topic is rising, focusing on improving lifestyle choices, such as a healthy diet and physical activities is imperative to address the problem.