4 out of 10 Dutch are overweight

Over 40 percent of the Dutch population is moderately to severely overweight, according to new data from Statistics Netherlands. Over the past three decades the proportion of overweight people in the Netherlands has increased, and the obesity rate among adults has more than doubled. Half of men aged 40 or older are currently overweight.

In 2009-2011, approximately 6,5 million people in the Netherlands were classified as moderately to severely overweight based on their Body Mass Index (BMI). This amounts to 41 percent of the population, compared to 27 percent in the early '80s. Among overweight people, 10 percent were severely overweight (obese) in 2009-2011.

Among young people aged 4 to 20, almost 11 percent were moderately overweight in 2009-2011, compared to 7 percent in the '80s. The obesity rate among children remained fairly stable over this period and is currently about 2,5 percent.

Among adults, obesity has increased dramatically, from about 5 percent in the early '80s to almost 12 percent in 2009-2011. The proportion of moderately overweight adults also increased, from 28 to 36 percent.

The proportion of overweight people increases rapidly over the age of 20, especially among men. Over 50 percent of men aged 40 or older are overweight. Meanwhile the proportion of overweight women also increases with age but this increase appears to be a more gradual process. Being overweight in general is less common in women than in men, but obesity is more common in women over 55 than in men.

Meanwhile, the proportion of the population that is underweight has always been small and is currently just over 2 percent.

measuring tape

Being underweight is not uncommon among people up to age 30 (ranging from 3 to 8 percent), but becomes rare thereafter.

Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is defined as a person’s body mass expressed in kilograms divided by the square of their height expressed in metres [kg/m²]. The BMI is generally accepted as a valid measure for underweight and overweight in adults aged 20 years or older.

 The criteria are as follows:
- BMI < 18,5 kg/m² is underweight
- BMI 18,5 kg/m² to 25 kg/m² is normal weight
- BMI >= 25 kg/m² is overweight

 Within the category "overweight" the following subcategories are distinguished:
- BMI 25 kg/m² to 30 kg/m² is moderate overweight
- BMI >= 30 kg/m² is obese

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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