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Europe obese by 2030

May 6, 2015

Obesity will hit Europeans hard in the coming years, according to the World Health Organization. Only one EU country is getting skinnier.

Füße auf einer Waage (Symbolbild)
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Weigel

The European Union country worst affected by obesity will be Ireland, where nine out of 10 men will be overweight by 2030, with Irish women coming in just behind, at 85 percent, according to the WHO report released Wednesday. Obesity will affect nearly half of Irish men and more than half of women by 2030.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or more. More concretely: A six-foot-tall man (1.82 meters) is obese at 221 pounds (100 kilograms), while a 5'6'' woman (1.68 meters) is obese at 186 pounds (84 kilograms).

In Greece, the number obese people will double by 2030 to 40 percent, and the same will hold true for men in Spain. In the Czech Republic, where the WHO presented its projections at a European Congress on Obesity in Prague, 36 percent of men and 37 percent of women will be obese in 15 years.

In a emailed clarification to DW, the WHO offered a caveat from Dr. Joao Breda, its program manager for nutrition, obesity and physical activity at the agency's Office for Europe, saying: "The study should be used with some caution as it was relatively small and was based on nationally available data that may not reflect the latest WHO estimates which are under further development."

The 2030 modeling projections compiled by the WHO and UK Health Forum.

Even Sweden - long known for slender frames - will see nearly one in four of its men and women obese by 2030. In Britain, every third woman will suffer from obesity by 2030. No data was available on Germany.

The only good news came from the Netherlands, which is projected see drops in obesity levels over the next 15 years: Just 8 percent of men and 9 percent of women will be dangerously overweight.

Obesity reduces life expectancy, lowers the quality of life and leads to various diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

The WHO's Breda wants EU countries to heed his organization's health-related clarion call and prevent an obesity crisis.

"Action taken today can prevent these predictions from becoming reality and in some European countries the trend is already flattening off thanks to preventive measures including successes, for example, in the area of childhood obesity."

cd/sms (AFP, Reuters)