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Obesity problem Ireland now second most obese EU nation with 56pc of adults classified as overweight

The lowest share was found in Italy and France, with 45pc of adults overweight

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Ireland has the second highest rate of obesity in the EU, with more than a quarter of the adult population in the Republic classified as obese, according to figures published by the European Commission.

The EU-wide survey of overweight rates among Europeans reveals that 26pc of Irish adults in 2019 were obese.

According to the Eurostat report, only Malta, with 28pc, had a higher share of its population rated as obese. The EU average was 16pc.

Ireland was ranked seventh, with an obesity rate of 18pc, when a similar survey was previously carried out in 2014.

Ireland fares better in terms of the proportion of the population considered overweight - a combination of obese and "pre-obese" individuals.

With 56pc of adults in the Republic classified as overweight, Ireland ranks toward the middle of the 27 EU countries - with the highest share of overweight adults found in Croatia and Malta with 64pc.

The lowest share was found in Italy and France, with 45pc of adults overweight.

People are considered overweight if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) - a measure of a person's body fat, which is based on their weight relative to their height - of 25 or more.

Adults with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese, while a BMI in the range 18.5 to 25 is classified as normal.

Overall, the Eurostat figures, which contain the first results of the European Health Interview Survey, show that just over half of all adults in the EU are overweight. While 45pc had a normal weight in 2019, 53pc were classified as overweight, with almost 3pc regarded as underweight.

The European Commission said weight problems are increasing at a rapid rate in most EU member states.

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A Eurostat spokesperson said obesity is a serious public health problem as it significantly increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, certain cancers and hypertension.

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