The World Health Organisation has warned that the current generation of young people in Europe may live shorter lives than their grandparents.
A report suggests that over half of the population is overweight or obese, and that alcohol consumption and tobacco use remains ‘alarmingly high’.
Claudia Stein, WHO Europe’s head of information, evidence, research and innovation, says the disparity in health status between European countries is ‘inexplicably wide’.
‘Europeans drink and smoke more than anyone else. We are world champions — and it’s not a good record. If rates of smoking and alcohol consumption and obesity do not decline we may risk the gains in life expectancy we have seen, which may mean that the next generation may lead shorter lives than we do.’
Although average lifespans are increasing, Stein warns that if bad habits such as smoking, drinking and overeating persist, we may be putting at risk the gains we have achieved in life expectancy.
The report takes account of life satisfaction for the first time, and finds that the four countries which report the best scores — Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland — also boast the highest life expectancy rates.
Before the next WHO survey, European member states agreed to make progress in reducing premature mortality, increasing life expectancy, reducing health inequities and, for those countries still without it, moving towards universal health coverage.
The report, which is published every three years, is available to view in full on the WHO website.