According to a surprising report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Greece is the country with the highest prevalence of obesity in the European Union, with three quarters of the population overweight or obese in 2002.
One of the FAO’s senior economists, Josef Schmidhuber, revealed that, in the 40 years to 2002, the average daily calorie intake of those living in the former 15-nation EU had increased by 20 per cent. However, Mediterranean countries, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, had all seen calorie intake rise by an average of 30 per cent.
The organisation attributed this rise to the gradual disappearance of the diet enjoyed by previous generations – a diet high in fruit and vegetables – and the increasing consumption of fatty, salty and sweet foods. Also to blame, the FAO said, were a drop in home cooking and exercise, and the rise of supermarkets and fast-food chains.