Eurobesity bulges to 1 in 6

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The survey statistically measured obesity using the Body Mass Index (BMI) of adults - defined as a BMI of 30 or over. ©iStock
The survey statistically measured obesity using the Body Mass Index (BMI) of adults - defined as a BMI of 30 or over. ©iStock

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The Maltese and Latvians are the fattest Europeans in a continent where 1 in 6 are now rated obese, according to a survey that found age and education were key factors.

Information taken from a European Health Interview Survey​, commissioned by Eurostat, found 1-in-4 were obese in Malta (26%) - the worst among the EU's 28 member states.

This was closely followed by 1-in-5 individuals in Latvia (21.3%), Hungary (21.2%) and Estonia (20.4%). The UK was the fifth most obese nation among EU member states (20.1%).

The country with the lowest rate of obesity among the population aged 18 or over was Romania (9.4%).

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) similar estimates from EU nations place obesity and overweight as affecting between 30-70% of adults.

Close age correlation

English breakfast diet UK England iStock CharlieAJA
The UK is the EU's 5th fattest member state. It is unknown if Brexit will improve this situation. ©iStock/charlieAJA

Eurostat identified that in nearly all EU member states obesity increased with age.

The widest disparity between the proportion of obese young people (18-24) and obese older individuals (65-74) was in Slovakia (2.7% vs 33%). Latvia closely followed (3.9% vs 33.2%) and Estonia (5.0% vs 31.4%).

Youth obesity was worst in Malta (12.0%) with the UK in second place (10.8%). Around 1-in-3 older people were considered obese in Malta (33.6%), Latvia (33.2%) and Slovakia (33.0%).

In a similar vein to general obesity rates, the number of overweight infants and children in the Europe has risen steadily from 1990 to 2008.

The WHO has stated that the 60% of children who are considered overweight before puberty will be overweight or obese in early adulthood.

Childhood obesity has been linked with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, underachievement in school and lower self-esteem.


Type 2 diabetes is considered the less severe form of diabetes and can be lifestyle and diet-related. ©iStock

The survey found obesity rates fell among better educated sub-populations - from almost 20% among those with less formal education, to 16% for those with a medium education level, to 11.5% for the most educated.

Slovenia had the greatest disparity - 9.2% for people with a high education level compared with 26.0% for those with a low education level.

Eurostat’s findings come off the back of forecasts from Public Health England (PHE) which said yesterday that the number of people with weight-related conditions such as diabetes could reach five million by 2035.

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