Adult obesity

In 2018, 15.9% 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

 1997200120042008201320182018//19972018//2013
Belgium10.812.112.713.813.715.91.93.0
//: Average Growth Rates

Sciensano (2019), S. Drieskens, R. Charafeddine, L. Gisle, Enquête de santé 2018: Etat nutritionnel. Bruxelles, Belgique: Sciensano; Numéro de rapport: D/2019/14.440/62. Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 153/10/2019).

Adult obesity by region - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 1997200120042008201320182018//19972018//2013
Brussels-Capital Region9.211.811.411.912.913.92.01.5
Flemish Region9.611.011.513.612.615.02.13.5
Walloon Region13.714.415.314.616.118.01.32.3
//: Average Growth Rates

Sciensano (2019), S. Drieskens, R. Charafeddine, L. Gisle, Enquête de santé 2018: Etat nutritionnel. Bruxelles, Belgique: Sciensano; Numéro de rapport: D/2019/14.440/62. Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 153/10/2019).

Adult obesity by sex - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 1997200120042008201320182018//19972018//2013
females10.512.713.514.413.915.01.71.5
males11.211.511.913.113.616.71.94.2
//: Average Growth Rates

Sciensano (2019), S. Drieskens, R. Charafeddine, L. Gisle, Enquête de santé 2018: Etat nutritionnel. Bruxelles, Belgique: Sciensano; Numéro de rapport: D/2019/14.440/62. Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 15/10/2019).

Adult obesity by education - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 1997200120042008201320182018//19972018//2013
primary education18.319.919.019.125.321.80.8-2.9
lower secondary education12.216.518.519.918.722.53.03.8
higher secondary education11.211.712.614.414.517.42.13.7
higher education6.86.27.49.18.712.22.87.0
//: Average Growth Rates

Sciensano (2019), S. Drieskens, R. Charafeddine, L. Gisle, Enquête de santé 2018: Etat nutritionnel. Bruxelles, Belgique: Sciensano; Numéro de rapport: D/2019/14.440/62. Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 15/10/2019).

Adult obesity by income - Belgium

percentage of population aged 18 years and over

 1997200120042008201320182018//19972018//2013
quintile 112.513.914.717.717.918.71.90.9
quintile 212.015.914.917.719.517.31.8-2.4
quintile 312.716.315.414.912.619.92.29.6
quintile 49.28.210.511.012.616.32.85.3
quintile 57.79.28.011.510.011.11.82.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Sciensano (2019), S. Drieskens, R. Charafeddine, L. Gisle, Enquête de santé 2018: Etat nutritionnel. Bruxelles, Belgique: Sciensano; Numéro de rapport: D/2019/14.440/62. Belgian Health Interview Survey - Interactive Analysis, https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/ (consulted on 15/10/2019).

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. Since these data are based on a survey, a margin of uncertainty has to be taken into account. This margin of uncertainty increases as the indicator is calculated on smaller sub-populations. 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, 2014 and 2017. According to these data, Belgium is 0.5 percentage points below the estimated European average in 2017 (as not all countries have their data published for 2017, the EU average is an estimation, made by Eurostat).

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

More information is available in French and Dutch.