Around one third of obese children in Cyprus will grow up to be obese adults, to the dietitians and nutritionists association (Sydiky) said on Monday.

“According to international surveys about a third (26 to 41 per cent) of obese preschool children will be obese as adults and about half (42 to 63 per cent) of obese school-age children will be obese as adults,” the association said.

The association said European rankings repeatedly put Cyprus in first to seventh place when it comes to overweight children.

A day after World Food Day, celebrated every year worldwide on October 16 to commemorate the date of the founding of the UNFood and Agriculture Organisation in 1945, they called on the government to address the problem of childhood obesity on the island.

Some of the Sydiky’s proposals include introducing a levy on sugary drinks, encouraging physical activity, and removing 20 per cent of sugar in selected products.

“These actions will significantly reduce Cyprus’ childhood obesity rate over the next ten years,” the association said.

“Achieving this target will mean fewer obese children in 2032 and, consequently, less obese adults in the future.”

Cyprus is among the countries with the highest rates of childhood obesity in the EU, MPs heard on Thursday during a session of the House health committee.

Committee chair Savia Orphanidou said the situation was “worrying” and called the alarming childhood obesity rates “a long-lasting pandemic and the scourge of our time.”

She also stressed that both the health and the education ministries should work together to promote physical exercise and healthy activities at all levels of the island’s education system.