UK most obese country in Western Europe, says OECD report

Back of obese woman

Nearly 27% of adults in the United Kingdom are obese, according to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)[1]

The OECD’s report ‘Health at a glance 2017’, published on 10 November 2017, presents up-to-date cross-country comparisons of the health status of populations and health system performance in OECD and partner countries.

Its comparison of its 35 member countries shows the UK to be the most obese country in Western Europe with only five other countries: Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, United States and Mexico, showing higher figures for obesity.

According to the report, the UK also saw a 92% increase in obesity in the past two decades, compared with 65% in the United States. However, it also acknowledges that England has been among the countries that has introduced food labelling measures such as nutrient lists, informative logos and traffic light schemes, and a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, to try and slow the obesity epidemic.

“One could weep over the figures, the result of successive governments who have, for the last thirty years, done next to nothing to tackle obesity,” said Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum.

“Ten years ago, a government department report stated that the nation was sleepwalking into obesity — but no minister, either then or since, has woken up to the fact,” he added.

“We urgently need that ‘bold and brave’ game-changing obesity strategy that David Cameron promised to produce in the final months of his premiership.

“The blueprint — based on the 44 measures recommended by a McKinsey Global Institute report on obesity in 2014 — needs to be implemented forthwith.

“Without this kind of urgent action, the UK’s obesity epidemic will continue to escalate with the predictions that 50% of the UK will be obese by 2050 probably materialising,” he said.

As well as obesity, the report also compares rates of cancer, suicide, chronic depression, diabetes, healthy eating and smoking across the 35 member countries.


[1] OECD. Health at a glance 2017: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, 2017. doi: 10.1787/health_glance-2017-en

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The Pharmaceutical Journal, UK most obese country in Western Europe, says OECD report;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203931

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