Prevalence of adult overweight and obesity in 20 European countries, 2014

Adilson Marques, Miguel Peralta, Ana Naia, Nuno Loureiro, Margarida Gaspar de Matos

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Background: Monitoring obesity and overweight prevalence is important for assessing interventions aimed at preventing or reducing the burden of obesity. This study aimed to provide current data regarding the prevalence of overweight and obesity of adults, from 20 European countries.

Methods: Participants were 34 814 (16 482 men) adults with mean age 50.8 ± 17.7. Data from European Social Survey round 7, 2014, were analysed. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from self-reported height and weight.

Results: The proportion of underweight was only 2%, and 44.9% for normal weight. Overweight and obese accounted for 53.1%. More men than women were overweight (44.7% vs. 30.5%). Older adults were significantly more overweight (42.4%) and obese (20.9%) than middle age and younger adults. Retired people account for a greater proportion of overweight (42.0%) and obese (21.5%), when compared with employed, unemployed and students. People from rural areas were significantly more overweight (39.1 vs. 36.1%) and obese (17.0 vs. 15.3%) than those who lived in urban areas. The estimates indicate that the highest prevalence of overweight was in Czech Republic (45.2%), Hungary (43.7%) and Lithuania (41.7%). For obesity, Slovenia (20.8%), Estonia (19.7%) and the United Kingdom (19.2%) were the countries with the highest prevalence.

Conclusion: Even though data was self-reported, and individuals tend to overestimate their height and underestimate their weight, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is considered high. More than half of the European population is overweight and obese. This study strengthens and updates the claims of an excessive weight epidemic in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-300
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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