London: Brits are the fattest people in Europe, says a new survey by the European Union’s Statistical Office, Eurostat.
A quarter of women and a fifth of men in the UK are now so overweight that their health is at serious risk. Second and third place go to Germany and Malta.
British women head the EU league, with 23 per cent clinically obese, and men fare little better, with 22.3 per cent classified as obese behind only Malta.
The figures highlight the obesity timebomb of ageing diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases brought on by obesity.
German women have an obesity rate of 21.7 per cent and Maltese women 21.2 per cent. The thinnest women are in Italy, where fewer than 8 per cent are obese.
The highest rate of male obesity is in Malta, with 25.1 per cent obese. British men are second with a rate of 22.3 per cent, followed by Hungary and Germany. Romania has the best record on male obesity, with just 7.7 per cent obese.
Measured by calculating Body Mass Index – a mathematical formula relating height to weight – people are classified as obese if they weigh a fifth more than their ideal maximum weight.
The EU statisticians looked only at adult obesity, but previous studies have shown rates of child obesity are equally worrying. In Britain the figures have trebled in 20 years, with 10 per cent of six-year-olds and 17 per cent of 15-year-olds now obese.
Adult obesity rates have nearly quadrupled over the last 25 years, making Britain the second-fattest nation in the developed world, trailing behind only America.
Obesity causes 9,000 premature deaths a year and costs the NHS up to £1billion.
Being obese can take nine years of a person’s lifespan and raise the risk of a host of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, infertility and depression.
The risk of many cancers, including breast, colon, kidney and stomach cancer, are linked to weight.