Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eastern Europe, Obesity Among Highest in Europe!

The 15th European Congress on Obesity is taking place in Budapest, Hungary this week. In the article European Congress on Obesity deals with bariatric surgery techniques, outcomes and metabolic benefits, I was surprised to read that "[s]pecial attention was needed in Eastern Europe where obesity rates are among the highest and particularly to the alarming increase in childhood obesity."

I don't know about you, but when I think Ukraine or Azerbijan, I don't think obesity.

How is it that Eastern Europe is growing fatter, faster than the rest of Europe?

If countries in Eastern Europe are growing fatter, I have to wonder, do they also have high rates of CHD?

Seven countries in Eastern Europe have abyssimal rates of CHD in men; in fact, per 100,000, deaths from CHD is reported as:
  • Armenia 464
  • Georgia 507
  • Uzbekistan 540
  • Moldova 650
  • Azerbijan 662
  • Kazakhstan 703
  • Ukraine 839

In the United States, deaths from heart disease is 106.5/100,000.

Their life expectancy isn't too good either:

  • Armenia 71.84
  • Georgia 76.09
  • Uzbekistan 64.58
  • Moldova 65.65
  • Azerbijan 63.85
  • Kazakhstan 66.89
  • Ukraine 69.98

In the United States, our life expectancy is 77.85 years.

I bet they eat too much fat in their diet!

Oh, maybe not....

In each country, the percentage of calories from fat:

  • Armenia 17.2%
  • Georgia 18.5%
  • Uzbekistan 28.7%
  • Moldova 16.7%
  • Azerbijan 16.4%
  • Kazakhstan 28%
  • Ukraine 25.1%

Ok, I bet they eat way too much saturated fat in their diet!

Oh, maybe not....

All consume less than 10% of their calories from saturated fat, and three even consume less than the AHA's optimal target of "less than 7%" of calories from saturated fat:

  • Armenia 7.3%
  • Georgia 5.2%
  • Uzbekistan 9.2%
  • Moldova 5.8%
  • Azerbijan 5.7%
  • Kazakhstan 8.1%
  • Ukraine 7.6%

Just some food for thought, since, ya know, we're repeatedly reminded to reduce our dietary fat, and especially our consumption of saturated fat; of course this is in an effort to not only keep our weight within normal, but also to reduce our risk for coronary heart disease (CHD).

Data from MONICA and CIA World Factbook.


  1. I imagine the facts will manage to get twisted if it isn't just ignored. Good post-Thanks!

  2. Martin4:13 AM

    Graphs from MONICA show that consumpion of (saturated) fat in EE countries are low, but it is steadily rising. CHD deaths are rising only in some of the countries (usually with lower living standards then the rest - Ukraine, Romania) over years 1975-2001. But this reflects better healthcare in welthier countries. No association either way.

  3. What's really interesting about this to me is that a couple decades ago there was a book written entitled "The Long-Living of Soviet Georgia" - now often cited by low-carb and whole foods advocates, as the Georgians ate a diet high in protein and low in grains yet lived long, disease-free lives.

    What changed? My guess is the introduction of American-style convenience foods and fast foods.

  4. Anonymous11:53 AM

    The problem here is that you're using two sets of numbers to prove a point - fat and saturated fat.

    Let's just ignore the alcoholism numbers, shall we?

    To paraphrase, you're using statistics the way a drunk uses a lightpost - for support, not illumination.

  5. As I said, it was food for thought.

    Within the linked documentation of the findings from MONICA, it's curious that the above countries don't appear to be consuming exceptionally high levels of pure alcohol when compared with countries consuming higher intake of saturated fat and total fat.

    Just quickly:

    Pure alcohol liters/year per person:

    Armenia = 1.2
    Georgia = 2.4
    Uzbekistan = 1.5
    Moldova = 13.9
    Azerbijan = 6.9
    Kazakstan = 2.9
    Ukraine = 4.0

    Compare that with:
    France = 13.5
    Italy = 9.1
    Switzerland = 11.5
    Greece = 9.3

    That's not to say alcoholism isn't within the Eastern European countries - I'm sure it is. But it's also within the Western European countries too.

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    Again - the numbers posted were food for thought; nothing more, nothing less.

  6. Anonymous6:12 AM

    May I point out that in Europe we class those countries as Russian satelite states and not Eastern European countries. Former Eastern European countries are East Germany, Hungary, Poland, etc.

    We know what abominable food choices they had under communist rule. Also they don't have access to the same healthcare system we do, so that will affect the mortality rates and bias the statistics.


  7. Anonymous7:06 AM

    The fact that Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova were Former Socialist republics had nothing to do with geographic boundaries of Europe (which were, are and will be set at Urals mountains). Germany, Hungary and Poland are Central European countries, and Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova - Eastern European countries.