More obesity and diabetes among adults at risk of poverty

Doctor with patient on a scale
© Hollandse Hoogte / Pim Ras
In 2021, half of the Dutch population aged 18 years and over were overweight. Overweight, severe overweight (obesity) and diabetes are more common among adults who live below the low-income threshold than among those with a higher income. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of new analyses with figures from the National Health Survey.

Overweight is more prevalent among men than among women: 53 percent of the male and 47 percent of the female population are overweight. At 41 percent, men are more likely to be moderately overweight than women (31 percent). Obesity, on the other hand, is more common among women with a share of nearly 17 percent, versus 12 percent among men. The proportion of overweight adults has been stable for years.

How many adults are overweight?Severe overweight Men Women 12% 17% 47% 53% Moderate overweight No overweight 41% 31%How many adults are overweight?SevereoverweightMenWomen12%17%47%53%ModerateoverweightNooverweight41%31%

More type 2 diabetes among overweight adults

In 2021, 5 percent of the adult population suffered from type 2 diabetes. The percentage of over-18s diagnosed with this type of diabetes was three times higher among those with moderate overweight (6 percent) and six times higher among those with obesity (12 percent) than among those without overweight (2 percent). In all age groups, type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among people who are (severely) overweight than among their peers without overweight.

Type 2 diabetes rates among adults, 2021
LeeftijdGewichtType 2 diabetes (%)
(18 yrs and over)
No overweight2
(18 yrs and over)
Moderate overweight6.5
(18 yrs and over)
18 to 44 yrsNo overweight0.2
18 to 44 yrsModerate overweight0.7
18 to 44 yrsObesity4.4
45 to 64 yrsNo overweight2
45 to 64 yrsModerate overweight5.9
45 to 64 yrsObesity11.8
65 yrs and overNo overweight6.3
65 yrs and overModerate overweight14
65 yrs and overObesity22.5

Higher overweight and obesity rates among adults at risk of poverty

In the period 2018-2021, overweight was seen more frequently among adults with an income below the low-income threshold than among adults with a higher income: 56 percent versus 51 percent. Nineteen percent of those on a low income suffered from obesity, versus 15 percent of those living above the low-income threshold.

Of the adult population with a long-term income below the low-income threshold, 60 were overweight, 40 percent were moderately overweight and 20 percent were obese. In addition, type 2 diabetes was also more widespread among those on a low or long-term low income (9 and 10 percent respectively).

Obesity and diabetes rates by income group, 2018/2021
Inkomen boven de lage inkomensgrensLong-term low income (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)Low income (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)Income above low-income threshold (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
No overweight38.943.249.1
Moderate overweight40.437.236
Type 2 diabetes10.48.75

Almost a quarter of overweight adults with a long-term low income have diabetes

In the group of moderately or severely overweight adults, type 2 diabetes was seen relatively more often among low incomes than among higher incomes. Among moderately overweight adults, 6 percent of those living above the low-income threshold had type 2 diabetes; this was 9 percent among the low incomes and 11 percent among the long-term low incomes. Among obese over-18s, this was 12 percent for those on an income above the low-income threshold, 18 percent for those on a low income and 23 percent for those with a long-term low income.

Type 2 diabetes rates by overweight and income group, 2021
GewichtInkomenType 2 diabetes (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
No overweightLong-term low income3.7
No overweightLow income4
No overweightIncome above low-income threshold2.3
Moderate overweightLong-term low income10.7
Moderate overweightLow income9.3
Moderate overweightIncome above low-income threshold5.9
ObesityLong-term low income22.6
ObesityLow income18
ObesityIncome above low-income threshold12.2

How does CBS obtain these figures?

The results have been taken from the National Health Survey. Based on a sample from the Personal Records Database (BRP), people were asked to complete a survey on perceived health, long-term conditions and height and weight, among other things. By linking with data on income from the Integral Income and Wealth Statistics (IIVS), it was determined whether survey participants were part of a household with (long-term) income below the low-income threshold.