Facts & figures – University of Copenhagen

Facts & figures on obesity


  • Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980.
  • 35% of adults aged 20 and over were overweight in 2008, and 11% were obese.
  • More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011.
  • Obesity is preventable.
  • Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
  • Overweight and obesity are linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight in 2008.


  • According to WHO's estimates for 2008, over 50% of both men and women in the European Region were overweight, and roughly 23% of women and 20% of men were obese.
  • Over 60% of children who are overweight before puberty will be overweight in early adulthood.
  • Childhood obesity is strongly associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, orthopaedic problems, mental disorders, underachievement in school and low self-esteem.

Costs of obesity in Europe:

  • Obesity is draining around €59 billion (440 milliarder DKK) a year from EU member states' pockets in direct health care costs, but the overall economic impact could be as high as €118 to €236 billion, with rising childhood obesity auguring badly for the future.
  • It is estimated that obesity cost the EU an average of 7% of its total health-care expenditure in 2006.

Sources: WHO internationalWHO EuropeEU observer