One-quarter of lowest educated obese

08/04/2016 15:00
Among people aged 25 and older with only primary school education, one-quarter are obese (seriously overweight), versus only 6 percent of university graduates. These data are based on the Lifestyle Monitor 2015, a joint publication by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Netherlands Nutrition Centre and the Dutch Centre of Expertise on Health Disparities Pharos. In this study, respondents self-report their body weight and height.

Lower educated often overweight


Lower educated people are often overweight. Among those with only primary school education 65 percent are moderately or seriously overweight versus 35 percent of university graduates. Obesity is found four times as often in people with only primary school education as in university graduated.
On the basis of this study it is uncertain whether a low education level increases the risk of overweight or obesity or vice versa or that both are caused by other factors. Possibly, all three conclusion are true.
Share overweight persons (25 yrs or older) by education level, 2015

Many older people overweight


As people grow older, the risk of overweight increases. Twelve percent of 4 to 19-year-olds have excess weight and the share rises from the age of 20 onwards; 6 in 10 people aged 50 or older are overweight.
Obesity also increases with age; the share of people classified as obese ranges from 5 percent among 4 to 20-year-olds to 17 percent among over-40s.

Overweight by gender and age, 2015

Education level and age



In relative terms, there are more older people among lower educated than among higher educated. Older people are also more often overweight. Even if the age difference is taken into account, overweight is still more frequently found among lower educated than among higher educated.


Obesity doubled since 1980s


Since 1981 the share of people aged 20 and up classified as obese has more than doubled. Based on another study, RIVM reported last week that obesity rates are rising. Over the past decade, the trend appears to have levelled off somewhat. Obesity prevalence has also increased in children and young people. In 2015 overweight and obesity prevalence are more or less the same as in 2014.