General health in OECD countries may be improving in many areas, but not when it comes to obesity, which is rising fast almost everywhere.
But levels vary enormously, from 25.1% of women classified as obese in the United States at the top of the list to just 1.6% of Korean men at the other end of the scale. Obesity levels have risen sharply in recent years, particularly in countries such as Australia, where 7.1% of those over 15 were obese in 1980 and 18.7% in 1995, and the UK, where the level rose from 7% in 1980 to 20% in 1999. Obesity is more common among women than among men in two-thirds of OECD countries, and such problems also tend to be more common in lower socio-economic groups.
• Health at a Glance, OECD, 2001.
©OECD Observer No 229, November 2001