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Over half of EU adult population is overweight
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07/12/2010 00:00:00

More than half the EU adult population is now overweight or obese, with the rate of obesity more than doubling over the past 20 years in most EU member states, according to a joint report published today by the European Commission and the OECD. All of which has considerable implications on health, health systems and on the wider economy.

The report shows that prevalence of obesity alone ranges from over 20 per cent in the UK (24.5), Ireland (23) and Malta (22.3) to less than 10 per cent in Romania (7.9) and Italy (9.9). On average, just over 15 per cent of the EU adults are obese.

European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, said, "In order to reverse the growing trend in obesity and other health problems in the EU we need reliable and up-to-date data to underpin the action we take as policymakers.

"This is where the Health at a Glance report makes such an important contribution and shall be a useful tool in the coming months and years."

The report comes ahead of a high-level EU conference in Brussels to look at ways to work together at European level to reverse this worrying trend.

    Healthy habits start young
    Children who are obese or overweight are more likely to suffer from poor health later in life, with a greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, arthritis, asthma, a reduced quality of life and even premature death.

    Currently, 1 in 7 children in the EU are overweight or obese - and the figures are set to rise even further.

    Key findings in the report
    • Life expectancy at birth in the EU increased from 72 years in 1980 to 78 years in 2007.
    • There are fewer deaths from heart disease, but it is still the biggest cause of deaths in the EU, accounting for 40% of all deaths in Europe in 2008.
    • There is a strong link between the prevalence of dementia and the ageing of the population as the number of people aged over 65 is expected to double between 1995 and 2050.

    More key findings on the rise in obesity, causes of death, smoking and alcohol consumptions, shortage in health workforce and record growth in health spending are highlighted in IP/10/1674. 

    The "Health at a Glance: Europe 2010" report, jointly published by the European Commission and the OECD, compiles data from the OECD, Eurostat and the WHO.

    The report presents key trends on health, health systems and health spending in the 27 EU Member States, plus the 3 European Free Trade Association countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and Turkey.

    The European Commission and OECD are working jointly on a number of health-related projects such as the “Health Care Quality Indicators” project and the “Economics of prevention” project.

    There is no better or worse health system; each system has strengths and weaknesses. The aim of providing comparable data is to give countries the possibility to learn from each other, to gain efficiency and to improve the health of their populations.

    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

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    Last update: 08/12/2010  |Top