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NIDI 50 • Obesity and life expectancy in Europe • 2020

17 May 2021

The obesity epidemic in Europe is increasingly affecting the health of individuals and the life expectancy levels within countries. According to an extensive comparative study in 26 European countries, without obesity, the life expectancy in Europe would be, on average, one year higher. The United States of America is known as the country with the highest obesity prevalence in the world, but Europe is also suffering from a serious obesity epidemic, with a prevalence of obesity of around 16 per cent in 2014. For men obesity prevalence has tripled since 1975, and for Western European women it has more than doubled. The United Kingdom is at the forefront of the European epidemic, on the heels of the United States. This can be explained among others by the widespread culture of ‘fast food’ and inactive lifestyle, but also by the large socio-economic inequality present in the two countries. People who are struggling to get out of the poverty trap are at greater risk of unhealthy eating habits and less exercise. Completely eliminating obesity would result in life expectancy in the 26 European countries being on average 1.2 years higher for men, and almost one year higher for women.

This project was funded from 2014-2020 by a VIDI Grant (PI Fanny Janssen) by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO).

Also view the corresponding VIDEO on future longevity inequalities in Europe  

In 2020 we celebrated our 50th anniversary as the national demographic institute of the Netherlands. Here we look back at 50 years of NIDI research and relate that to our current research. We present insights and landmarks from some of the studies that have been conducted in the past, combined with short videos of early career scholars at NIDI, presenting current research projects on similar topics.

Back to: NIDI 50 Years • Cross sections of population research

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