Because you are what you eat

By Laura TomassiniMisch PautschLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Approximately 1.9 billion people worldwide are overweight. According to the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), in 2019, 40 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women in Luxembourg weighed too much. The main contributing factors are poor dietary habits and insufficient physical activity.

The fact that abdominal fat in particular is a serious risk factor for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems and cancer, and is therefore directly linked to the most common causes of death, cannot be emphasised often enough. Nevertheless, people across Europe are getting fatter and fatter, sometimes with serious consequences. Numerous studies and programmes deal with the topic of obesity and how it can be prevented at an early stage before the increase in body fat leads to negative consequences for health.

Dr Torsten Bohn is a nutritionist and food technologist at the Luxembourg Institute of Health, LIH for short, and advocates prevention that starts at home with a balanced diet, which children should later also find in the school, crèche and Maison Relais context. "There are certain periods in life when the body undergoes major changes. Even intrauterine, i.e. in the womb, what the mother eats has an influence on the child's development."

Record holders in meat consumption

Not only can food preferences be transferred from mother to child, the ingredients eaten by the mother also end up directly in the foetus via the interconnected bloodstream. Children who have already had an unhealthy diet as unborn babies therefore tend to develop health and weight problems in the following years – common diseases develop. According to the World Health Organisation, the rate of overweight or obesity in Europe among six to nine-year-olds is already at 29 per cent. This means that almost a third of European children are too fat and run the risk of becoming ill; the figure for adults is as high as 52.7 per cent.

Luxembourg also scores poorly when it comes to healthy eating habits and body weight. "In 2007, the Grand Duchy was the world champion in terms of meat consumption, with 136 kilos per capita per year. This put us ahead of countries such as the USA, Austria and Australia. Unfortunately, a lot of processed products are eaten in this country, which have been proven to be unhealthy, " explains Dr Bohn. There is a strong link between the consumption of meat products and cardiological diseases, and this is already the case from a daily consumption of 50 grams.

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