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Between 8% and 25% of Adults are Obese across Member States
added: 2011-11-28

Obesity and overweight are serious public health problems that can be statistically measured using the Body Mass Index (BMI) of adults. Obesity is defined as a BMI of over 30. Among the 19 Member States for which data are available, the proportion of obese people in the adult population varied in 2008/9 between 8.0% and 23.9% for women and between 7.6% and 24.7% for men. In the USA, the corresponding figure was 26.8% for women and 27.6% for men in 2009.

For both women and men aged 18 years and over, the lowest shares of obesity in 2008/9 were observed in Romania (8.0% for women and 7.6% for men), Italy (9.3% and 11.3%), Bulgaria (11.3% and 11.6%) and France (12.7% and 11.7%). The highest proportions of obese women were recorded in the United Kingdom (23.9%), Malta (21.1%), Latvia (20.9%) and Estonia (20.5% in 2006/7), and of men in Malta (24.7%), the United Kingdom (22.1%), Hungary (21.4%) and the Czech Republic (18.4%).

There is no systematic difference in obesity between women and men: the proportion of obesity was higher for women in eight Member States, higher for men in ten and equal in one.

These data come from the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The EHIS aims at measuring the health status, life style and health care of citizens across the EU Member States on a harmonised basis.

The share of obese persons increases with age…

The share of obese persons varies between age groups. For women there is a clear pattern in all the Member States available, that the older the age group, the higher the share of obese persons. The largest differences between the youngest and oldest age groups of women were observed in Latvia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Estonia. For the two youngest age groups, the percentage of obese women in the United Kingdom is particularly notable.

For men, in twelve of the nineteen Member States available, the highest share of obesity was recorded for the age group 65-74, while in the remaining seven Member States, the highest share was registered for the age group 45-64. The largest differences between age groups for men were found in the United Kingdom, Hungary, Malta and Greece. For the age group 25-44 in Malta and 45-64 in the United Kingdom, the percentage of obese men is particularly significant.

…and tends to fall with educational level

The share of obese persons also varies according to the educational level. For women, the pattern is again clear: the proportion of women who are obese falls as the educational level rises in all Member States. The largest differences in obesity between women with a low educational level and those with a high educational level were observed in Slovakia, Malta, Poland and Greece.

For men, in eleven of the available Member States, the highest share of obesity was observed for those with a low educational level, in five Member States for those with a medium educational level while in Bulgaria and Estonia it was for those with a high educational level.

Source: Eurostat

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