European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 679–689 | Cite as

Overweight and obesity in 16 European countries

  • Silvano GallusEmail author
  • Alessandra Lugo
  • Bojana Murisic
  • Cristina Bosetti
  • Paolo Boffetta
  • Carlo La Vecchia
Original Contribution



In Europe, only a few population-based studies have been conducted on obesity in different countries at the same time using homogeneous methodologies. We provide updated information on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Europe, using data from a pan-European survey.


We considered data from a representative cross-sectional study conducted in 2010 in 16 European countries (i.e., Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, England, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden), using a uniform protocol and comparable methods, on a total of 14,685 adults (aged ≥18 years) providing information on self-reported height and weight.


Almost half of the interviewed European adults (47.6 %) were overweight or obese (54.5 % in men and 40.8 % in women), and 12.8 % (14.0 % in men and 11.5 % in women) were obese. Obesity prevalence was lower in Western/Southern (11.1 %) than in Central/Eastern (12.4 %) and Northern European countries (18.0 %). It ranged from 7.6 % in Italy to more than 20 % in Croatia (21.5 %) and England (20.1 %). Prevalence of obesity significantly increased with age and decreased with level of education. As compared to never smokers, obesity was less frequent in current smokers and more frequent in male, but not female, ex-smokers.


The lowest prevalence of obesity was observed in Mediterranean countries, particularly in Italy and France. Intervention to control obesity in Europe should focus on subgroups with higher prevalence of obesity, including adults of lower socioeconomic status and male ex-smokers.


Overweight Obesity prevalence Pan-European survey Europe 



The project ‘Pricing Policies and Control of Tobacco in Europe (PPACTE)’ was funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme Grant Agreement HEALTH-F2-2009-223323. The work of SG, AL, CB, and CLV is partially supported by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC, No. 10068) and the Italian League Against Cancer (LILT), Milan, Italy.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

The study protocol of the PPACTE survey was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the IRCCS - Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri”, Milan, Italy. The procedures for recruitment of subjects, informed consent, data collection, storage, and protection (based on anonymous identification code) were in accordance with the current country-specific legislation. The study has therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silvano Gallus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alessandra Lugo
    • 2
  • Bojana Murisic
    • 1
  • Cristina Bosetti
    • 1
  • Paolo Boffetta
    • 3
  • Carlo La Vecchia
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyIRCCS - Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri”MilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Sciences and Community HealthUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  3. 3.Institute for Translational Epidemiology and Tisch Cancer InstituteIchan School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA

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