UK women are 'fattest in Europe'

An overweight person walks through Glasgow City centre Statisticians looked at the 19 European states data was available for

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The UK has more obese women than any other country in Europe, according to European Union figures.

Data agency Eurostat, which looked at 19 countries, found nearly a quarter of UK women - 23.9% - were recorded as being obese in the year 2008 to 2009.

Just over 22% of UK men were classed as obese, coming second only to Malta.

A person is defined as obese if their body mass index (BMI), the result of a calculation involving weight and height, is above a certain level.

The BMI correlates fairly well with body fat.

Statisticians found the share of overweight and obese people increases with age in all of the 19 member states that data was available for.

The data come from the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) and was published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Its figures for the UK were based on data from England, although surveys suggest the percentage of obese adults in Wales and Northern Ireland is similar and Scotland's latest health report put the figure at 28%.

After the UK, the countries with the highest levels of female obesity were Malta, with 21.1%, and Latvia, where 20.9% fulfilled that criteria.

Meanwhile, after Malta and the UK, the countries with the highest instances of male obesity were Hungary - where 21.4% fall into that category - and the Czech Republic, where 18.4% are classed as such.

How to work out your BMI

  • Work out your height in metres and multiply the figure by itself
  • Measure your weight in kilograms
  • Divide the weight by the height squared
  • For example, if you are 1.6m (5ft 3in) tall and weigh 65kg (10st 3lb), the calculation would then be: 65 ÷ (1.6 x 1.6 = 2.56) = 25.39
  • A BMI of less than 18.5 is underweight
  • A BMI of 18.5-25 is ideal
  • A BMI of 25-30 is overweight
  • A score of 30 or above is obese

The UK's high levels of obesity are in stark contrast to those in countries such as Romania, where just 8% of women were classed as obese along with 7.6% of men.

Obesity levels were also found to be low in Italy, Bulgaria and France.

In Italy, 9.3% of women were found to be obese and 11.3% men.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria levels of obesity for women and men were found to be 11.3% and 11.6%, with levels of France identified as being 12.7% and 11.7% respectively.

The figures suggested that the proportion of women who are obese or overweight falls as the educational level rises.

Last month, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley launched a bid to reduce obesity levels in England by 2020.

The minister said people need to be honest with themselves about how much they eat and drink.

He said that, overall, Britons should be eating five billion fewer calories a day than at present.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    You can always tell the one's feeling guilty....when you read a factual news item and think it's personally aimed at you!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    Harsh biological reality catches up with politically correct culture. Womens bodies are evolved to store calories in the event of pregnancy. Women refuse to have children. Women get very fat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 637.

    This story has been fantastically overwritten. Glance at the press release from Eurostat and you'll see that more than half a dozen countries didn't even contribute data, never mind the fact that it appears to state that the "UK" data actually only pertain to England. Obesity is a problem, so is poorly-explained information about health.

  • rate this

    Comment number 636.

    As one, female, colleague said to another recently, "If you thought your husband was having an affair you'd have no problem losing weight."'

    Yes, all 13 stone of it with a good divorce lawyer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 635.

    I look at obese people in the street and wonder how they can abuse their bodies like they do...all that disgusting fat! How will history judge us? Not kindly, that's for sure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 634.

    Read the book 'Death by Supermarket'. People need to be disciplined about what they buy.....there is a limit to what the govern't can do. Also supermarkets put healthy choice on items that are not heathly but we just take their word for it. Exercise is only a small part of the problem - excess weight is mostly to do with eating more calories than the body burns.

  • rate this

    Comment number 633.

    I don't see many fat people. Is that because I live somewhere where most people don't own cars?

  • rate this

    Comment number 632.

    _ lover15, as a doctor you know your trade is fraught with uncertainty and there is no scientific method to determine, among many other things, who's fat - it's all arbitrary. What will bankrupt your NHS and here in the US is to allow the medical industry unchecked decisions who is "healthy" and who isn't. "Obesity" is not a problem, these doctors should be helping the hungry in the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 631.

    I think much of this is to do with life-style - everyone is busy all the time whether with paid work or whatever. No-one has time to cook properly or eat properly, so you gain weight. People eat at their desks at work because they have too much to do and when they get home at night they are too tired to do anything but eat a ready meal and fall into bed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 630.

    617. Its maybe not the governments role to 'sort out the mess you make of your life' but they might try to help by stopping energy companies take money off us, money we could have used to eat more healthily with. Those at the top are acting if anything more irresponsibly when we consider a healthy society than those at the bottom.

  • Comment number 629.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 628.

    I think we need to be careful when approaching this problem. It is mostly about education about healthy eating and creating opportunities for people to participate in a wider range of sport and physical activities.

    The UK and Ireland have some of the least "outdoorsy" lifestyles in the EU. We need to look at what can be done to get people out and active!

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    It's amazing how obese people can delude themselves too. My mother is obese, but because she can walk a couple of miles on flat ground she tells other people she is fit. I took her up a small hill last week and she was stopping every few yards and saying her lungs were hurting. People need to get real about how fat and unfit they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    New gov scheme: Weigh at departure plus consumption tax, heath tax & death tax will be levied - transport surcharge - fatty food surcharge - domestic refuse/sewerage tax - NHS tax for fat related sickness - Funeral cost of cremation/burial. The benefits: people lose weight. reduce cost of transport/fuel consumption - reduce carbon - reduce NHS cost - live longer

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.


    What a refreshing change a report that does'nt blame the people on benefits for the woes of the country !!!"

    With two notable exceptions, one of whom I'm sure you can guess. Seems, contrary to their claims of working 24/365, the others don't in fact work at weekends ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    Another one of the those "stating the bleeding obvious". Just walk along any high street and you'll see them all, wobbling around.

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    less muller (knightrider adverts aside), more fibre

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    You can't blame food companies because 1 meal can't be classified as unhealthy, health is a long term lifestyle issue - if you eat fast food frequently but exercise a lot and ensure your diet is balance in other ways then you'll still be healthy

    and at the end of the day it's up to the public whether they voluntarily choose to become fat or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    602. Agreed, but is that a pyschological thing one wonders. If you educated these same people in your train munching crisps and buns etc to eat fruit instead might that not work? Could instant gratification not be just another factor here? Surely with eating, moderation is the answer. I love chocolate but could not live without my apples and bananas etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    What a shocking surprise, I had never noticed!


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