Purpose: In Europe, only a few population-based studies have been conducted on obesity in different countries at the same time using homogeneous methodologies. We provide updated information on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Europe, using data from a pan-European survey.
Methods: We considered data from a representative cross-sectional study conducted in 2010 in 16 European countries (i.e., Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, England, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden), using a uniform protocol and comparable methods, on a total of 14,685 adults (aged ≥ 18 years) providing information on self-reported height and weight.
Results: Almost half of the interviewed European adults (47.6%) were overweight or obese (54.5% in men and 40.8% in women), and 12.8% (14.0% in men and 11.5% in women) were obese. Obesity prevalence was lower in Western/Southern (11.1%) than in Central/Eastern (12.4%) and Northern European countries (18.0%). It ranged from 7.6% in Italy to more than 20% in Croatia (21.5%) and England (20.1%). Prevalence of obesity significantly increased with age and decreased with level of education. As compared to never smokers, obesity was less frequent in current smokers and more frequent in male, but not female, ex-smokers.
Conclusions: The lowest prevalence of obesity was observed in Mediterranean countries, particularly in Italy and France. Intervention to control obesity in Europe should focus on subgroups with higher prevalence of obesity, including adults of lower socioeconomic status and male ex-smokers.