A statistical modeling paper has projected rates of obesity and overweight status in both male and female Europeans for 2030 and found that, when it comes to being fat, not all 53 Euro-region countries are equal.
The statistical model incorporated all available data on body mass index (BMI) and obesity/overweight trends in all 53 of the WHO's Euro-region countries. Their model "enables obesity trends to be forecast forward providing estimates of the dynamic epidemiology of the disease".
Definitions were based on the WHO's standard cut=offs - healthy weight (BMI ≤24.99 kg/m²), overweight and obesity combined (BMI ≥25 kg/m²) and obesity (≥30 kg/m²).
In almost all countries the proportion of overweight and obesity in males was projected to increase between 2010 and 2030 - to reach 75% in UK, 80% in Czech Republic, Spain and Poland, and 90% in Ireland, the highest level calculated. The lowest projected levels of overweight and obesity were found in Belgium (44%), and the Netherlands (47%).
Similar trends in overweight and obesity were projected in women, with Ireland again showing the greatest proportion (84%).
Projected male obesity levels ranging from 15% in the Netherlands and Belgium, to 47% in Ireland. The highest obesity prevalence in females was projected in Ireland (47%), and the lowest in Romania (10%). The projected proportions of male obesity were found high in Ireland (58%), Greece (40%), Czech Republic (38%) and UK (35%). The lowest male obesity prevalence was projected in Romania (10%).
The study also highlighted several other trends, notably that the projections "show little evidence" of any plateau in adult obesity rates throughout Europe. In England, for example, although the increase in obesity prevalence trend is less steep with recent data than with historical data, levels are still set to rise and rates in 2030 and will be much higher then than in 1993.
In explaining the variations in projected obesity levels between countries the investigators note the possible effect of "economic positioning" and "type of market". Like the US, the UK and Ireland don't ban types of food. Given the choice to be fat or thin, many people choose to be fat. They advocate a social authoritarian approach. "The UK and Ireland, where obesity prevalence is among the highest, possess unregulated liberal market economies similar to the US, where the collective actions of big multinational food companies to maximise profit encourages over-consumption," they write. "The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Austria possess more regulated market economies."
Advocacy aside, science actually knows that obesity is a multi-factorial disease that won't be solved by banning the scary thing of the week.