Adult obesity

In 2013, 13.7% of the adult population in Belgium recorded a body mass index higher than 30. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must decrease. Since 2001, there is not enough data to calculate and assess the trend in adult obesity.

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Adult obesity - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 199720012004200820132013//19972013//2008
Belgium10.812.112.713.813.71.5-0.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Scientific Institute of Public Health (2014), Drieskens, S. État nutritionnel, in: Gisle L., Demarest S. (éd.), Enquête de santé 2013. Rapport 2: Comportements de santé et style de vie, WIV-ISP, Brussels; Scientific Institute of Public Health (2017), Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 23/11/2017).

Adult obesity by sex - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 199720012004200820132013//19972013//2008
females10.713.213.315.114.41.9-0.9
males11.111.711.613.013.71.31.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Scientific Institute of Public Health (2014), Drieskens, S. État nutritionnel, in: Gisle L., Demarest S. (éd.), Enquête de santé 2013. Rapport 2: Comportements de santé et style de vie, WIV-ISP, Brussels; Scientific Institute of Public Health (2017), Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 23/11/2017).

Adult obesity by education - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 199720012004200820132013//19972013//2008
primary education17.719.919.119.225.22.25.6
lower secondary education12.316.518.519.918.82.7-1.1
higher secondary education11.411.812.714.514.51.50.0
higher education6.76.27.39.18.71.6-0.9
//: Average Growth Rates

Scientific Institute of Public Health (2014), Drieskens, S. État nutritionnel, in: Gisle L., Demarest S. (éd.), Enquête de santé 2013. Rapport 2: Comportements de santé et style de vie, WIV-ISP, Brussels; Scientific Institute of Public Health (2017), Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 23/11/2017).

Adult obesity by income - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 199720012004200820132013//19972013//2008
quintile 112.513.914.517.517.82.20.3
quintile 212.015.715.017.717.32.3-0.5
quintile 312.716.115.515.013.30.3-2.4
quintile 49.28.310.711.012.51.92.6
quintile 57.79.07.710.59.81.5-1.4
//: Average Growth Rates

Scientific Institute of Public Health (2014), Drieskens, S. État nutritionnel, in: Gisle L., Demarest S. (éd.), Enquête de santé 2013. Rapport 2: Comportements de santé et style de vie, WIV-ISP, Brussels; Scientific Institute of Public Health (2017), Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 23/11/2017).

Definition: obesity corresponds to a body mass index higher than 30. This indicator corresponds to the share of obese people in the adult population (aged 18 years and over). The body mass index (or BMI) is an anthropometric measurement that is calculated as the relationship between the weight in kilograms and the square of the body height in meters. The BMI is correlated with the body fat percentage of an adult (Eurostat, 2008). Obese people run a higher risk of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain forms of cancer (WHO, 2015). The data come from the national health surveys carried out by the Scientific Institute of Public Health / Sciensano for Belgium and from Eurostat for the other European countries. For the 1997 Belgian health survey, 10 221 people were polled. For the 2001 survey: 12 111, the 2004 survey: 12 650; the 2008 survey: 8 836 and for the 2013 survey 10 834 people were polled. Since these data are based on a survey, a margin of uncertainty has to be taken into account. The confidence intervals are available on the Sciensano website.

Goal: the share of obese adults must decrease.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 2.2: “By 2030 end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving by 2025 the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and older persons”.

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development contains objective 7: “The morbity/mortality due to chronic diseases should be reduced” (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013). Since obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and different forms of cancer, the share of obese adults must decrease to move towards the goal.

International comparison: for the EU28 Eurostat publishes data for 2008 and 2014. According to these data, Belgium is in 2014 1.9 percentage points below the European average. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group that performs best in 2014.

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for the SDGs but is related to target 2.2. The indicators that are presented for the follow-up of the SDGs are indeed not adapted to the Belgian situation (2.2.1 Prevalence of stunting [...] among children under 5 years of age) or are not followed up by Belgium (2.2.2. Prevalence of malnutrition [...] among children under 5 years of age, by type [wasting and overweight]). Adult obesity is a form of malnutrition and a relevant problem in Belgium. This problem has been chosen to follow up malnutrition in Belgium.

Sources

  • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

  • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

  • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

More information is available in FR (French) and NL (Dutch).