Irish rank high among most overweight in Europe

Some 22 per cent of girls and young women are overweight, ranking Ireland fifth in Europe

Irish people are among the most overweight in

western Europe, but levels of obesity have yet to reach the levels found in many of our neighbours, according to a new analysis of the disease in the Lancet.

Some 22 per cent of Irish girls and young women are obese or overweight, ranking Ireland fifth in Europe, according to the survey published today. Over half of all adult women – 50.9 per cent – are overweight or obese, the eighth- highest figure in the continent.

Levels are higher among males, though comparatively the problem is worse in other countries. Some 26.6 per cent of Irish young men are obese or overweight, the eighth-highest figure in Europe. Among adult men, 66.4 per cent fall into this category, the sixth-worst figure for the region.


Ireland ranks sixth for men and eighth for women when obesity alone is considered. Some 22.9 per cent of men and 22.5 per cent of women are obese. Among young people, Ireland ranks 15th for men and 12th for women for obesity.

The study says there has been a startling increase in rates of obesity and overweight over the past 33 years, with the numbers affected rising from 857 million in 1980 to 2.1 billion last year.

In Tonga, more than half of all men and women are obese, while in Kuwait, Libya, Qatar and some Pacific islands, more than half of women are obese.

The authors calculate that for the UK to reduce weight to 1980 levels would need an 8 per cent reduction in consumption, costing the food industry €10.7 billion a year.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times