Consumer Protection Minister Renate Künast told the German parliament on Thursday that obesity among children and youth in the country had reached near epidemic proportions and that society needed to actively fight it. According to the minister, a member of the environmentalist Green Party, one-third of the nation's young people are overweight and 8 percent of those become ill because of their weight. The numbers among adults are not better, she said, saying that according to the Robert Koch Institute, two-thirds of men and one-half of women in Germany are overweight, costing Germany some €71 million a year. Künast called for an initiative which would aim to change eating and exercise habits of the nation's youth, asking that stronger controls be placed on the food industry and their advertising aimed at children. Opposition politicians criticized the speech, calling it "populist" and accusing the governing coalition of trying to distract attention from other matters.