Obesity is a serious public health problem that can be statistically measured using the Body Mass Index (BMI) of adults. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or over. New figures were recently published (20 October) by Eurostat, the statistics office of the EU.
While 46.1% of those aged 18 or over living in the EU had a normal weight in 2014, slightly more than half of the adults (51.6%) were considered as over-weight (35.7% pre-obese and 15.9% obese) and a further 2.3% as under-weight. In other words, nearly 1 in every 6 persons aged 18 or over in the EU was obese in 2014.
|Body Mass Index|
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is defined as the weight in kilos divided by the square of the height in meters, both self-reported by respondents aged 18 or over. Obese: BMI equal or greater than 30. Pre-obese: BMI between 25 and 30. Overweight: BMI equal or greater than 25.
There is no systematic difference in obesity levels between men and women. However, the share of obese adult clearly varies between age groups and according to education level. With the exception of those aged 75 or over, the older the age group, the higher the share of obese persons: the obesity share in the EU stood at 22.1% for people aged 65 to 74,while it was below 6% (5.7%) for those aged 18 to 24.
The pattern is also clear for education level: the proportion of obese persons in the EU falls as the educational level rises. Indeed, while the percentage of obese persons among those with low education level reached almost 20% (19.9%), it decreased to 16.0% for those with a medium education level and to less than 12% (11.5%) for the population with a high education level.
Among the EU Member States for which data are available, the lowest shares of obesity in 2014 among the population aged 18 or over were recorded in Romania (9.4%) and Italy (10.7%), ahead of the Netherlands (13.3%), Belgium and Sweden (both 14.0%).
At the opposite end of the scale, obesity concerned more than 1 in 4 adults in Malta (26.0%), and about 1 in 5 in Latvia (21.3%), Hungary (21.2%), Estonia (20.4%) and the United Kingdom (20.1%).
The Brussels Times (Source: Eurostat)