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Web magazine, 25 November 2011 15:00

Obesity rate in the Netherlands lower than in other OECD countries

The proportion of obese people in the Dutch population has doubled within the last two decades, but is still below the average level across the OECD countries. At the same time, health care expenditure in the Netherlands is above the OECD average. Life expectancy in the Netherlands grows less rapidly than in many other OECD countries, as is shown in the biennial OECD publication Health at a Glance.

Obesity has doubled in OECD

The percentage of people in OECD countries with serious overweight (obesity) has nearly doubled to 17 percent over the past 20 years. With 12 percent, the Dutch percentage in 2009 was far below the OECD average. Still, it has doubled over the past 20 years. The same trend was observed in New Zealand. Obesity rates in the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK), have increased by approximately half. The UK obesity rate currently stands at 23 percent, but with more than one in three, the US has the highest obesity rate worldwide. The lowest rates are recorded in Japan en South Korea.

Obese adults in various OECD countries

Obese adults in various OECD countries

Health care expenditure highest in the US

Within the OECD, health care expenditure  in the US has been the highest for years. The gap between the US and countries like Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands is wide. Adjusted for differences in purchasing power, per capita expenditure on health care in the US was 6.7 thousand euro in 2009, versus 4.1 thousand euro in the Netherlands. With 760 euro, per capita expenditure on health care was lowest in Turkey.

Together with Canada and Australia, most countries in Northern and Western Europe spend more on health care than the OECD average. In the countries in Southern and Eastern Europe plus Japan and South Korea, spending on health care is below the OECD average.

Health care expenditure, 2009 (or most recent year available)

Health care expenditure, 2009 (or most recent year available)

Japan has highest life expectancy

Life expectancy at birth in the Netherlands was 80.6 years in 2009, i.e. more than 7 years higher than in 1960, but the growth rate lower than in other OECD countries. With 83 years, the life expectancy growth rate in Japan (currently the highest in the world) was nearly twice as high.

The average life expectancy in the OECD countries has risen by more than 11 years since 1960 reaching 79.5 years in 2009. The OECD countries where life expectancy is lowest are Slovakia, Hungary and Turkey (75 years or below), but life expectancy in Turkey has risen by no less than 25 years since 1960.

Life expectancy at birth in various OECD countries

Life expectancy at birth in various OECD countries

Vincent van Polanen Petel

Bron: Health at a Glance 2011

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