Greek teens rank among the worst regarding unhealthy lifestyles, according to a study carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The lack of physical exercise, and poor dietary habits, result in overweight/obesity issues, as highlighted by a new study from the WHO which places Greece in the unflattering 40th spot from the 44 countries included in the survey.

On a global scale, a mere 20% of adolescents meet the WHO recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. In Greece, the situation is even more disheartening, with only 14% of middle and high school students exercising regularly.

These discouraging figures mean about 30% of adolescents aged 11, 13, and 15 in Greece are considered physically inactive (reporting moderate to vigorous physical activity at most two days a week), with this percentage significantly increasing with age. The authors note that this data reflects how secondary school students utilize their free time.

The study also reveals that only 38% of adolescents worldwide consume fruits and vegetables daily, with the corresponding percentage being significantly lower in Greece (30%), ranking it fourth from the bottom.

However, encouragingly, Greek teenagers continue to prefer the Mediterranean diet over a “Western-style” diet, while a substantially lower percentage of Greek adolescents report daily consumption of sweets, chocolates, etc. (18% compared to 25% globally) or sugary soft drinks (6% compared to 15% globally).

Considering the above, it is unsurprising that 28% of adolescents aged 11, 13, and 15 are classified as overweight or obese, a percentage significantly higher than the global average (22%). Greece ranks 7th highest in overall obesity among all ages and 2nd highest among 15-year-olds.

Targeted Interventions

The researchers gathered data from 44 countries participating in the most recent (2022) study of the cross-national research program “Health Behaviour in School-aged Children.” “The findings underscore the need for targeted interventions that will guide adolescents towards adopting healthy behaviors and avoiding habits that endanger their health and well-being, both now and as adults in the future,” adds Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

The list of proposed measures includes tightening regulations on food advertising, facilitating access to affordable and nutritious products, implementing policies to prevent the consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks, and promoting physical activity.