Another Brexit myth exploded - No, the UK is NOT ‘the fattest nation in Europe’

This might make the Maltese cross, but they weigh in at No.1 – five places above the UK

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2022

When it comes to being merely ‘overweight’ rather than ‘obese’, the UK is down in 15th place

Many readers may have gained the impression that the UK has the most overweight population in Europe, but this is not true.

We may ‘punch above our weight’ globally, but in an EU comparison we only come in 6th in the ‘obesity’ index and 15th in the ‘overweight’ index.

In today’s report we deflate the bloated claims about our weight, using the latest official statistics from the EU Commission.

Firstly, what’s the difference between being ‘overweight’ and being ‘obese’?

As most readers will know, an individual’s weight classification is based on their ‘Body Mass Index’ or ‘BMI’. BMI is defined as the weight in kilos divided by the square of the height in metres.

People aged 18 years or over are considered ‘obese’ with a BMI equal to or greater than 30. In the figures that follow, the category ‘overweight’ (with a BMI equal to or greater than 25) combines the two categories ‘pre-obese’ and ‘obese’.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Obesity and being ‘overweight’ – the UK compared to the EU

1. Obesity – the UK is in 6th place when compared to EU27 countries

  1. Malta : 28.7%
  2. Hungary : 24.5%
  3. Croatia : 23.0%
  4. Latvia : 23.0%
  5. Estonia : 21.8%
  6. United Kingdom : 21.0%
  7. Finland : 20.9%
  8. Slovenia : 19.9%
  9. Czechia : 19.8%
  10. Slovakia : 19.7%
  11. Germany : 19.0%
  12. Poland : 19.0%
  13. Lithuania : 18.9%
  14. Portugal : 17.7%
  15. Austria : 17.1%

[Source: Latest European Commission official data, released June 2022.]

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

2. Being ‘overweight’ – the UK is down in 15th place

  1. Croatia : 64.8%
  2. Malta : 64.8%
  3. Czechia : 60.0%
  4. Hungary : 59.9%
  5. Finland : 59.0%
  6. Romania : 58.7%
  7. Slovakia : 58.7%
  8. Latvia : 58.3%
  9. Poland : 58.1%
  10. Slovenia : 58.1%
  11. Greece : 57.6%
  12. Ireland : 57.1%
  13. Lithuania : 56.8%
  14. Estonia : 56.7%
  15. United Kingdom : 56.1%

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2022 - click to enlarge

[Source: Latest European Commission official data, released June 2022.]

Does it matter if we’re overweight?

In simple terms, the more overweight we are, the more likely we are to die of other causes. This was most recently seen in ‘deaths from Covid’, for example.

The statistics become scarier as we get older. Around three-quarters of those aged 45-74 in England are overweight or obese.

There is also a growing problem with our young people. One in seven children in England is obese by the age of five, rising to one in four by the age of 11.


We make no value judgements here. Some of the Facts4EU.Org team will readily admit they are overweight – and one will admit she is underweight. They are all equally valuable and hard-working.

It might seem frivolous to some readers to assess the statistics across Europe, but there is a real impact on health services, productivity, and the quality of people’s lives when it comes to our weight.

All of us build impressions over time. One such impression we had was that the United Kingdom was “the fat man of Europe”. We therefore decided to grill the official data to see what was served up.

As with so many other things, the data showed that the impression given to people is false. Yes, increasing obesity is a problem – particularly in children – but the UK is in the mid-range when it comes to being ‘overweight’.

After researching this report, some members of the Facts4EU.Org are now going for a brisk early morning walk…

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[ Sources: EU Commission | House of Commons Library ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Thurs 04 Aug 2022

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