Malta has the highest proportion of obese adults in Europe, according to EU figures released yesterday (20 October), while Romania is the least obese.
In total just under a sixth of adults living in the European Union are obese – 15.9%, according to the Eurostat statistics agency, which said the figure goes up amongst older and less educated Europeans.
Counting 26% of its adults as obese, the Mediterranean island of Malta appears the worst hit by the public health problem, followed by Latvia and Hungary.
Britain – which leads the way in consuming the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, according to Eurostat figures released last week – came in fifth place with 20.1%.
Romania may not be doing so well on eating its greens – it came in last place on that ranking — but its rates of obesity are the lowest in Europe at 9.4%, ahead of Italy (10.7%) and the Netherlands (13.3%).
“With the exception of those aged 75 or over, the older the age group, the higher the share of obese persons,” Eurostat said in a statement. Only 5.7% of 18-24 year-olds are obese, compared to 22.1% of 65-74 year-olds.
There is also a clear link between education and obesity, with almost a fifth in the lowest-qualified category classed as obese compared to 11.5% for those with higher education.
Eurostat defines obesity as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30, where BMI is the weight in kilograms divided by the square of a person’s height in metres.
Obesity – which carries with it a range of health problems including greater risks of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers – has doubled globally since 1980, according to the World Health Organization.