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British women fattest in Europe PDF Print Email
According to figures released by the European Commission British women are the fattest in Europe.  The data comes from the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) published by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office.  The figures show that nearly a quarter (23.9 per cent) of women in the UK were obese in 2008/09, when the data was recorded.
British men were not far behind on 22.1%.  The study ranked British men as the third fattest in Europe, with 67.8 per cent of males aged 15 or older either overweight or obese - only Greece (77.5 per cent) and Malta (73.3 per cent) were fatter.
The report also found that Britain is the ninth least active nation in the world, with 63.3 per cent of adults taking less than 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.  Separate figures showed that about a third, 32%, of English children aged 11 to 15 are overweight or obese.
The data released by the commission showed the proportion of obese people among adults in Europe ranged from 8% to 23.9% for women and 7.6% to 24.7% for men.
In all of the 19 member states that data was available for, the share of overweight and obese people increased with age.  The proportion of women who were obese or overweight was also shown to fall as the educational level rose.
The high levels of obesity in the UK are in contrast to countries like Romania, where just 8% of women and 7.6% of men are classed as obese.
The figure is far worse than most other countries, for example, by comparison, 12.7 per cent of French women are overweight, 14.4 per cent of Spaniards and just 9.3 per cent of Italians.
Experts from the European Commission, which compiled the figures for the year 2008/9, are concerned at the number of young British women who are obese.
Across most of Europe, very few 18- to 24-year-olds are obese but in Britain 16.6 per cent of young women are too fat.  Between the ages of 18 and 24, almost one woman in four is so fat their health is suffering.
The statistics come weeks after Health Secretary Andrew Lansley launched a new goal to bring down England's obesity levels by 2020.  He said Britons should be eating five billion fewer calories a day and urged people to be honest with themselves about what they eat and drink.
Obesity is placing a major toll on health services in the UK, with related hospital admissions up by more than 30% since 2008/9.  Cardiovascular disease is Britain’s number one killer, accounting for more than 191,000 deaths every year.
A man or woman is defined as obese if their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or above and overweight if it is between 25 and 30.
The BMI is a measure of a person's weight relative to their height. It is calculated by dividing body weight by body height squared.
If you would like to know your BMI and are unsure of how to check you should call into your local pharmacy who will be able to tell you.  If you are overweight or worried about being overweight your local pharmacy can be a huge help with free, confidential advice and a comprehensive range of products and programmes available to help you.