According to the World Health Organisation, Ireland set to be most overweight country in Europe by 2030. Developed countries in general, and Europe in particular, are experiencing alarmingly high rates of overweight populations and obesity, and Ireland is set to be at the forefront of this issue over the next few decades.
Let's dive into a brief analysis of the evolution of our weight problems, while also looking at some other countries across the globe.
The graphs below provide first a snapshot of the national prevelence of overweight adults around the world, where overweight is defined as one having a BMI greater than 25 (age-standardised estimate), and second, the situation 25 years later, in 2016. What do we know?
Now let's take a look at the overweight rates over time for a few select countries.
Ireland and the US have had some of the steepest increases in overweight rates.
Ireland's overweight rate among adults has grown by 26% precentage points.
Nauru, like many small, former colonies, sees consistently high rates of obesity. Overweight populations in the Pacific islands are often seen as this colonial legacy of settlers trying to civilize the locals.
Overweight rates have been rising for both genders for all countries under analysis.
For developed countries like the US, Ireland, Italy and Spain the rate of overweight women has consistently trailed that of men, although both have been rising in near lockstep.
The overweight populaiton rate in Nauru, although extremely high among both men and women, is significantly higher among women through time.
Let's take a closer look at the situation in Ireland. The graphic below tells us two things:
Overweight rates have been surging in Ireland over the past generation.
The rate among females has nearly doubled.
For males, the rate has grown by two thirds.
What about the US? The situation looks pretty similar to that of Ireland:
Rates among women consistently trail those of men.
The increase for both genders has been alarming.
Japan and South Korea have the lowest rates of overweight prevalence according to the latest figures.
Ireland trails only the UK, Spain and Czechia in Europe.
Oceania countries Austalia and New Zealand have extremely high rates, led only by the US.
The prevalence of childhood overweight rates has tripled in Ireland and nearly doubled in Italy and Spain.
It's more than doubled in the US.
Rates for both boys and girls were in the single digits during the late 1970s.
They have been rising steadily ever since, and have crossed the 30% threshhold in recent years!
Even back in the 1970s, overweight rates among children were a lot higher in the US than they were in Ireland, for both boys and girls.
These rates have crossed the 40% threshhold.
It's important to remember that the prevalence of the overweight population for children was double that of Ireland's in the 70s, but only a third greater more recently.
The comparison looks very much like that of adult overweight rates above.
Japan again has the lowest rate. Ireland comes in sixth among European countries.
The US takes the biscuit (literally) once again.
Prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents, BMI>+1 standard deviation above the median, crude Estimates by WHO Region: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.BMIPLUS1CREGv?lang=en
Prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents, BMI>+1 standard deviation above the median, crude Estimates by country, among children aged 10-19 years: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.BMIPLUS1C10-19v?lang=en