EU Obesity Rankings: Malta Has The Highest Rate Of Obesity, Followed By Latvia

obesity index
A woman stands outside a sandwich shop in Manchester, in north-west England, Oct. 10, 2006. Getty Images/PAUL ELLIS/AFP

The European Union released its obesity figures Thursday, with the central Mediterranean archipelago nation of Malta occupying the top spot as the most obese nation. Malta outweighed the No. 2 country in the list, Latvia, by almost 5 percent.

Obesity has been an increasing threat to public health with the number of people suffering from the condition having doubled globally since 1980, according to World Health Organization data. The Eurostat statistics agency, for the report, defined obesity as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30.

The European Health Interview Survey, conducted by Eurostat, showed that almost 1 in 6 adults — 15.9 percent — in the EU is considered obese. The instance of the condition increased with factors like age and fell with higher levels of education, Eurostat data showed.

Malta emerged on top of the obesity list with 26 percent of its adults being categorized as obese. It was followed by Latvia (21.3 percent), Hungary (21.2 percent) and Estonia (20.4 percent).

Britain — expected to leave the union soon in accordance with its Brexit vote — came in fifth with 20.1 percent of its adults being obese. This was despite the fact that Eurostat figures released last week showed that the country was on top when it came to healthy eating — consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, as recommended.

Romania’s rate of obesity was the lowest in the union with 9.4 percent individuals figuring in the category. Italy (10.7 percent) and the Netherlands (13.3 percent) were next.

According to the survey, age and rate of obesity were found to be inversely proportional, with only 5.7 percent of those between 18 and 24 obese, compared to 22.1 percent of those between the ages of 65 and 74. “With the exception of those aged 75 or over, the older the age group, the higher the share of obese persons,” the Eurostat said in a statement.

Education and obesity are also closely related, the data showed. Almost one-fifth of the people under "lowest qualified category" were obese while for the educated group, 11.5 percent of the people were suffering from the condition.

However, the report could not make any direct links between gender and rate of obesity with the proportion of obesity higher for men in almost half of the countries and higher for women in the other half.

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