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Northern Europeans are Officially Obese 2006-11-15

Posted by clype in Europe, Health, Scotland, Statistics.

A league table based on the average Body Mass Index (BMI) shows that the average person in the United Kingdom is overweight.

Three-quarters of the European nations surveyed tip the scales at well above the recommended levels. Residents of only seven member countries are, on average, what is regarded by ‘The World Health Organization‘ as a healthy weight.

Experts said northern European countries are at risk because of the import of large, US American-style portions, fast food, and a sedentary lifestyle through the winter months.

According to ‘The World Health Organization‘ (‘The WHO’) guidelines, anyone with a BMI of between 18.5kg/m² and 25kg/m² is a healthy weight. Anyone less than 18.5kg/m² is considered underweight. A BMI of between 25 and 30kg/m² is classed as overweight, and anything over 30kg/m² is obese.

According to the survey, the slimmest nation is Italy, where the average index is 24.3kg/m². The fattest country in Europe is Malta, where the average resident has a BMI of 26.6kg/m².


  • 24.3kg/m² Italy
  • 24.5kg/m² France
  • 24.8kg/m² Austria
  • 24.8kg/m² Poland
  • 24.9kg/m² Netherlands


  • 25.0kg/m² Slovakia
  • 25.1kg/m² Belgium
  • 25.1kg/m² Latvia
  • 25.2kg/m² Estonia
  • 25.2kg/m² Czech Rep
  • 25.4kg/m² UK
  • 25.5kg/m² Lithuania
  • 25.5kg/m² Slovenia
  • 25.5kg/m² Denmark
  • 25.6kg/m² Cyprus
  • 25.6kg/m² Hungary
  • 25.7kg/m² Luxembourg
  • 25.8kg/m² Finland
  • 25.9kg/m² Greece
  • 26.6kg/m² Malta

BMI is a statistical measure of the weight of a person scaled according to height. A high BMI has been linked to a host of health problems, including adult-onset diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure.

Mr.Ian Campbell MD, the medical director of ‘Weight Concern‘, said an ideal index is 22kg/m². He said:

‘Body mass index is an excellent tool for looking at populations and trends.

‘It is always concerning that we have among the worst figures in Europe. But it is little consolation for the countries with a lower index, because they are all over 24 and that means there is double the risk of developing diabetes than if the figure was 22, which is ideal.

‘In the UK and other northern European countries we have been quicker to adopt an American style of eating big portions and convenience food, and we tend to be more sedentary’ Dr Campbell said.

Scotland is the fattest region of the UK and experts have warned of a time-bomb of overweight children.

Recent statistics showed that a third of 12-year-olds in Scotland are overweight and a fifth are obese. Half of Scottish 13-year-olds consume sugary drinks and eat sweets daily, while fewer than a quarter have vegetables on a daily basis.

  • This week, ministers from across the EU are due to meet in Istanbul to agree an anti-obesity charter.

Weights and measures:

The Body Mass Index (BMI) was devised by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet, it is defined as the individual’s body mass divided by the square of the height, and is therefore always expressed in the unit kilogram per square metre (kg/sq.m or kg/m²)

For instance, a BMI of 18.5kg/m² to 25kg/m² may indicate optimal weight; a BMI lower than 18.5kg/m² suggests the person is underweight while a number above 25kg/m² may indicate the person is overweight.

A BMI of below 15kg/m² may indicate the person has an eating disorder while a number above 30kg/m² suggests the person is obese and over 40kg/m², morbidly obese.

However, experts believe that the BMI’s accuracy in relation to actual levels of body fat is easily distorted by such factors as fitness level, muscle mass, bone structure, gender, and ethnicity.




1. Doc - 2006-11-16

Maybe it is a height thing?
For example, take two men who weight 80kg, one is 1.75 tall and the other is 1.76 tall (a small difference of 10 millimetres), the resulting BMIs are: 26.122 and 25.83.

Maybe southern Europeans are taller or, how about slightly less fat and slightly more tall == a big difference BMI-wise.

On the other hand, maybe Northern Europeans are more muscley, and work-out in the Gym, everyone knows muscles weigh more than fat, and big rugby players, boxers etc. have BMIs of obese proportions!

2. Why The American Dream is Our Nightmare « RT1 - 2007-01-13

[…] are informed that the Mediterranean peoples are healthy, so let’s compare. The Italians are the slimmest people in Europe… but Europe is getting fatter as the American influence […]

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