A Heavy Cross to Bear, Our Men Are Fattest in Western Europe

Article excerpt

Byline: John Cooper

IRISH men have been shamed as the fattest people in Western Europe in a new study into obesity levels.

Latest data on global trends in obesity reveal weight levels rising rapidly in Ireland between 1980 and 2008.

Researchers compiled body mass index scores - which relate weight to height - for high and low income nations worldwide.

Under World Health Organisation guidelines, BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered 'healthy', overweight is 25 to 29.9 and clinical obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or above.

The average BMI of Irish men is 27.7, up from 25.8 in 1980, which is the highest of 19 Western European countries included in the research.

Men in Britain and Cyprus share joint fourth highest fat levels among Western European countries, with an average BMI of 27.4.

Other high-scoring countries with high levels were Russia (27.2), Moldova (27.1), Israel (27.3) and Malta (27). For Irish women, the average BMI was 26.6, up from 24.6 in 1980. But they were spared the blushes of British women, who were shamed as the fattest in Western Europe, with an average BMI of 26.9, up from 24.2 in 1980. Switzerland came out on top with the slimmest women, with a BMI of 24.1.

Among high-income countries, America had the highest single BMI for men and women, with average scores over 28.

The full findings from three global studies looking at BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure over the last 28 years are published in The Lancet medical journal.

In 2008, the results showed that more than one in ten of the world's adult population was obese, with women more likely to be obese than men.

An estimated total of more than half a billion adults were obese worldwide - nearl y double the level recorded in 1980.

And a growing and ageing population also meant that the number of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure rose from 600 million in 1980 to nearly a billion in 2008. …