Cyprus now has the worst obesity amongst children in Europe, with Greece, Italy and Spain not far behind, according to new data from the World Health Organisation European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative covering over 300,000 children aged 6 to 9.
The figures are far higher than for the north west fringe of Europe.
How can this be, one is tempted to ask, when the Mediterranean diet of fruit, vegetables, pasta and olive oil was held out to be an example to all? Indeed, as recently as 2013, the Mediterranean diet was officially recognised by UNESCO as part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage.
The unfortunate answer was given in uncharacteristically forthright terms by the WHO at last month’s European Congress on Obesity. “The Mediterranean diet for the children in these countries is gone. There is no Mediterranean diet any more. Those who are close to the Mediterranean diet are the Swedish kids. The Mediterranean diet is gone and we need to recover it.”