An obesity crisis of enormous proportions will face Europe by 2030, according to latest projections released by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe at the European Congress on Obesity in the Czech Republic from 6-9 May.

(Friday 8 May 2015) An obesity crisis of enormous proportions will face Europe by 2030, according to latest projections released by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe at the European Congress on Obesity in the Czech Republic from 6-9 May.

Countries with projected steep rises in obesity include Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The projections are the work of Dr Laura Webber, UK Health Forum and Dr Joao Breda, WHO Regional Office for Europe and colleagues, who looked at data from 53 countries of the WHO European region.

“Our study presents a worrying picture of rising obesity across Europe,” Dr Webber says in a UK Health Forum press release. “Policies to reverse this trend are urgently needed. Although there is no ‘silver bullet’ for tackling the epidemic, governments must do more to restrict unhealthy food marketing and make healthy food more affordable. There are also some countries in which there were insufficient data. As these countries improve their obesity surveillance, more accurate estimates can be forecast.”

The projections compared the proportions of overweight* and obese* men and women in 2010 with projected 2030 levels.

In Ireland, almost all adults are projected to be overweight by 2030. For men, 91% are likely to be overweight (which includes obese men), and 27% are estimated to be obese by 2030, compared with 76% and 24% respectively in 2010. For women, 83% are likely to be overweight, and 57% obese in 2030, compared with 56% and 23% in 2010, respectively.

In the UK, one third (33%) of women are forecast to be obese in 2030, compared with over one quarter (26%) in 2010, while 36% of men will be obese in 2030 compared with 26% in 2010.

An estimated 77% of Greek men are forecast to be overweight by 2030 compared to 66% in 2010, while the proportion of obese Greek men will more than double from 20% to 44% over the same period. Greek women will likely see similar increases – 67% of Greek women will be overweight in 2030, up from 53% in 2010. The proportion of obese women in Greece will likely double from 20% in 2010 to 40% in 2030.

Even in countries with traditionally lower prevalence of obesity such as Sweden, obesity rates are predicted to rise sharply. An estimated 26% of Swedish men will be obese by 2030, compared to 14% in 2010, while for women the proportion of obesity will increase from 12% to 22%.

Few countries in the WHO region will see stable or decreasing overweight and obesity rates.

The Netherlands is projected to do better than many other European countries. Less than half of Dutch men (49%) are predicted to be overweight, and just 8% obese, by 2030, compared with 54% and 10% in 2010. For Dutch women, the proportion of overweight will remain more or less stable over the 20 years (43% in 2030 and 44% in 2010) and the obesity rate in Dutch women is predicted to fall from 13% to 9% during this period. “Overall, the data show no evidence of a plateau in adult obesity in most countries,” the press release said.

*Overweight means all people with a body mass index (BMI) over 25kg/m2 and obese means people with a BMI of over 30kg/m2.