At the Residenza di Ripetta (Bernini Meeting Hall) in Rome, the IBDO Foundation (Italian Barometer Diabetes Observatory) published the Italian Obesity Barometer Report 2019 on April 9th. The meeting was organized by the IBDO Foundation (Italian Barometer Diabetes Observatory). This summit provided an opportunity to present the key statistics collected by the IBDO Foundation in collaboration with ISTAT (Institute of Statistics) on obesity and excess weight in Italy, clearly indicating the severity of the current situation in the country.
More than one in three Italians are overweight, and one in ten is obese. In light of the fact that obesity continues to rise and is one of the leading risk factors for chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Obesity is one of the most pressing issues facing the country today.
Here are some details on the Italian obesity report. More than 23 million adults (18 years old and older), or 46%, and 24.2%, or 1 million and 700,000 individuals, are overweight and obese. Study results indicate that 46% of adults (18 years old and older), or more than 23 million individuals, are overweight or obese. Figures reveal a discrepancy between the rates of obesity between men and women: women show a lower rate of obesity (9.4%) than men (11.8%). There is even more of a discrepancy among children and adolescents: 20.8% of girls are overweight compared to 27.3% of boys, which is a significant difference.
Further geographical differences can also be observed: in the South of Italy and the islands, the problem of excess weight has become more widespread, especially among young people. The percentage of overweight children and adolescents in the South and islands, respectively, has been reported to be 31.9% and 26.1%. As you move north, those numbers decline 22% in Central Italy, 22.1% in the North East, and 18.9% in the North West.
A less significant geographic difference can be found among adults: 11.8% are overweight in the South and islands; 10.6% are overweight in the North East; 10.2% are overweight in the North West, and only 8.8% are overweight in Central Italy. There is a significant difference between urban and rural areas in Italy, in addition to the gap between the North and South. As many as 12% of people in small towns (fewer than 2,000 people) are obese, while 8.8% of people in big cities are obese. However, it has been the suburbs (8.2% to 10.9%) and metro areas (6.8 to 8.8%) that have seen the greatest obesity increases in recent years (2001-2017).
According to the report, there are two other critical trends. In the first case, sedentary lifestyles are prevalent in the North, while in the South, there is a significant divide between them. In general, there is a statistically significant decline in physical activity and sports participation among young adults in the South of Italy and on the islands (except for Sardinia), and in Sicily and Campania in particular (42% in Sicily; 41.3% in Campania; 40.1% in Calabria). Furthermore, it appears that education also plays a significant role in determining obesity rates. A degree in higher education is a safeguard against obesity, particularly when it comes to preventing it. The number of obese people with college diplomas stands at 6.6%, while the number rises to as much as 14.2% for those with only a middle school diploma. In addition, 18.5% of parents with college degrees are obese in comparison to 29.5% of the children of parents with little formal education. Likewise, 29.5% of parents with no college degrees children are obese.
Considering the increasing healthcare costs, economic burden, and societal impact of this disease, the report emphasizes the need for strategic programs focusing on prevention and treatment. Health experts deem obesity to be a health emergency, not only because of its serious consequences for individual health, such as quality of life and longevity, but also because of its serious economic consequences for society. A key turning point in the debate is the 1st Italian Obesity Summit - Changing Obesity Meeting, which demands policymakers' attention on an institutional level. As part of its mission to share key data and other useful information that can be used to formulate new policies, guarantee access to treatment, and promote better health through promoting a healthy lifestyle and diet, the IBDO Foundation released the Italian Obesity Barometer Report.