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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 17:52 GMT
Average European 'is overweight'
Obesity
The average European is overweight
The Maltese and the Greeks are the heavyweights of Europe, figures from the European Commission reveal.

The Italians and French the most trim, while the average Briton - like the average European - is slightly over the ideal weight.

Obesity, which is linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, is a growing problem across much of the developed world.

The Commission plans to launch a strategy to tackle obesity next year.

EUROPE'S HEAVYWEIGHTS
Malta - 26.6
Greece - 25.9
Finland - 25.8
Luxembourg - 25.7
Hungary - 25.6
Cyprus - 25.6
Lithuania - 25.5
Slovenia - 25.5
Denmark - 25.5
UK - 25.4
Body Mass Index figures

Obesity is measured by calculating body mass index (BMI).

A BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is considered healthy, between 25 and 30 overweight and above 30 obese.

The latest figures show that the average citizen in 20 EU countries, including the UK - where the average BMI is 25.4 - is overweight.

The average person in the other five, including Italy and France, is officially healthy.

Poor self-awareness

The Maltese recorded the highest average BMI at 26.6, the Italians the lowest, at 24.3.

SLIMMEST COUNTRIES
Italy - 24.3
France - 24.5
Austria - 24.8
Poland - 24.8
Netherlands - 24.9
Slovakia - 25.0
Belgium - 25.1
Latvia - 25.1
Estonia - 25.2
Czech Rep - 25.2
Body Mass Index figures

Despite the figures, only 38% of EU citizens consider themselves to be overweight, according to the poll of about 1,000 people in each of the 25 EU member states.

Most blamed a sedentary life for restricting their scope to be healthier.

Less than one third said they engaged in regular "intensive" physical activity.

And a large majority - 85% - said public authorities should play a stronger role in fighting obesity.

EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "This survey provides us with valuable insights into the concerns of EU citizens on health and nutrition."




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