Which country has the highest average BMI in Europe?

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By Emma Beswick
Which country has the highest average BMI in Europe?

Global obesity is rising year on year, according to a new study of global trends in body mass index (BMI).

From 1985 to 2017, BMI rose by an average of 2kg/m2 in women and 2.2kg/m2 in men globally, which is equivalent to each person becoming 5-6kg heavier, the report led by Imperial College London found.

Published in Nature scientific journal, the study saw researchers analyse the height and weight of more than 112 million adults across urban and rural areas of 200 countries between 1985 and 2017.

BMI is an internationally recognised scale which shows if an individual has a healthy weight for their height by comparing the two measurements.

The BMI calculation divides an adult's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared. For example, A BMI of 25 means 25kg/m2.

How did Europe fare on the global scale?

In the ranking of highest mean BMIs of countries in Europe, when considering both men and women, Turkey came top (27.3kg/m2 for men, 28.9 kg/m2 for women), falling in 37th place out of the 200 countries included in the study.

Switzerland saw the lowest mean BMI (26.8kg/m2 for men, 23.8kg/m2 for women), which put the country in 170th place overall.

France (115th), Denmark (152nd), Austria (146th), Italy (142nd) and Spain (141st) all came low down in the 200-country ranking with mean BMIs around 25.

Azerbaijan (45th), Georgia (joint 54th), Moldova (60th), Ireland (69th), Armenia (70th) and the UK (71st) all had mean BMIs in the high 20s, putting them at the top of the European scale.

According to the NHS website, for most adults, an ideal BMI is in the 18.5 to 24.9 range.

American Samoa had the highest BMI of all the countries included in the report (33.1kg/m2 for men, 35.1kg/m2 for women).

Ethiopia ranked 200th with mean BMIs for both genders around 20 (20.1kg/m2 for women, 21.1kg/m2 for men).

One trend researchers noticed that has remained largely unchanged since 1985 was that rural women in Central and Eastern European countries were heavier than their urban counterparts by the biggest margin — around 1 kg/m2 or more in Belarus, Czech Republic and Latvia.

The biggest margins of rural over urban BMI for men in European countries were in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Austria, all of which had rural BMIs over 0.35kg/m2 higher than urban BMI.

Here's a list of all the European countries included in the ranking along with the nations with the highest and lowest mean BMIs for comparison: