90% Of This Population Will Be Overweight By 2030 — It's Not Where You Think

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eurobesity openerPhotographed By Ruby Yeh.
French women don't get fat — or so the saying goes. As obesity rates in America have soared over the past few decades, Europe has managed to stay relatively healthy by comparison. But, according to a new report from the World Health Organization and the UK Health Forum, it looks like Europeans may be losing their edge.

The report's projection data show that obesity rates in almost all of the 53 Eurozone countries will soar over the next few years. The biggest hikes are expected in Ireland, where 90% of men and 84% of women could qualify as overweight or obese by 2030. Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic aren't too far behind, with an estimated 80% of each country's population expected to be overweight or obese. The UK rounds out the top of the list with a projected 75% obesity/overweight rate. And, even the countries with the lowest projected rates are pretty high by European standards; Belgium and the Netherlands, which represent the least obese Eurozone nations in the projections, are still expected to hit 44% and 47%, respectively.

The researchers used computer models and current BMI stats from each country in order to put together realistic projections. For the purposes of the study, they defined "overweight" as having a body-mass index (BMI) over 25; "obese" referred to a BMI over 30. To put these numbers in context, about 68% of Americans are currently overweight or obese.

Of course, it's important to note that an increasing body of research suggests BMI isn't everything when it comes to overall wellness. But, the authors assert that the increase in obesity prevalence, at least in countries like Ireland and England, can be linked to the economic structures that encourage unhealthy eating: "[These countries have] unregulated liberal market economies similar to the US, where the collective actions of big multinational food companies to maximize profit encourages over-consumption." Clearly, as the numbers show, the detrimental effects of an industrialized, capitalist food industry are not just an American problem anymore. (NPR)