The poll shows that more men than women are overweight (56.4% versus 47.8%) and that males also suffer more often from obesity (18.8% as against 16.8% for women). At least 41% of Belgians under the age of 34 years have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, and 15% are considered obese, which means their BMI exceeds 30.
The situation worsens with age: 51.2% of Belgians in the 35-54 age bracket are too fat, according to health criteria. Among those above the age of 59.1%, the proportion rises to 59.1%.
Belgians are aware that they are putting on too much weight, since six out of 10 want to lose weight and say they are open to professional help. Half have already tried one or more diets, but only one in three obtained the desired results. The respondents feel this limited success was due most often to a lack of self-discipline.
Mild and severe obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardio-vascular conditions and cancer. The World Health Organisation estimates that the number of cases of obesity worldwide has tripled since 1975.