Which is the most obese country in the EU?

Which is the most obese country in the EU?
By Chris Harris
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Eurostat has today published figures on the level of obesity in the European Union.


Eurostat has today published figures on the level of obesity in the European Union.

Here are some points to consider:

Malta the most obese

More than one-in-four adults in Malta were obese. Its figure of 26 percent was the highest proportion in the European Union.

A report last year by The Today Public Policy Institute on obesity in Malta concluded ‘when it comes to healthy lifestyles and physical exercise, Malta is one of the fattest, laziest and most car-dependent nations on the planet’.

It added: “That we are consistently at the bottom in every league speaks volumes on the incompetence of our governmental health administrations in matters of preventive medicine and encouraging healthy lifestyles.”

After Malta, the biggest proportions of obesity were found in Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, who all had more than one fifth of adults in this category.

Romania the least obese

Romania looked in the best shape, EU-wide, with just 9.4 percent of adults obese, followed by Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.

How does the EU compare with the US?

The EU average for obesity – defined as anyone with a body mass index of more than 30 – was 15.9 percent or around one-in-six in 2014.
To put the EU’s value in context the least obese state in the USA, Colorado, had a rate of 20.2 percent. Four states had obesity rates of more than 35 percent – Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia.

More than half of adults in EU considered ‘overweight’

Overall 46.1 percent of adults in the EU were considered a normal weight, with 51.6 percent classified overweight, consisting of those categorised overweight, pre-obese and obese. A total of 2.3 percent of adults were underweight.

Is the obesity problem getting worse?

Comparable data for previous years is limited to 2008. But, of the 17 countries for which there are figures, only three saw their obesity problem get worse, compared with 2014: Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria.

Slovakia, Cyprus and the Czech Republic made the best progress on obesity if you compare data for 2008 and 2014.
Slovakia improved its figures by around seven percent, moving from having nearly one-in-four adults obese eight years ago, to one-in-six in 2014.

What proportion of adults are underweight?

Cyprus (4.6 percent) , Italy (3.7 percent) and France (3.6 percent) had the largest proportions of adults (aged 18-64) underweight.

How do men and women compare on obesity?

EU-wide, there was little difference between men and women in terms of obesity, with 16.1 percent of adult males falling into this category, compared with 15.7 of adult females.

The proportion of obese women was greater than men in 11 countries: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK.

In Lithuania 19.9 percent of adult women were obese, compared with 14.1 percent of women, the biggest gap in the EU.

France was the only country where both men and women were the same.

Obesity and education

There is also a direct correlation in the EU between obesity and levels of education: 11.5 percent of well-educated adults were obese, compared with 19.9 for those that have a lower level of learning.

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