The Czech Republic has the third highest obesity rate in Europe

New data shows that nearly 70 percent of Czech men are overweight while six out of ten Czechs are overweight, and one in five is obese.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 03.01.2022 14:08 (updated on 03.01.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The pandemic has led to a dramatic leap in obesity in the Czech Republic with the number of overweight and obese people in Czechia increasing by ten percent in the last seven years according to doctors. In 2021, Czechs weighed an average of 3-5 kilograms more due to lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyles.

This news squares with the latest Eurostat data showing the Czech Republic as Europe’s third most overweight country. The numbers also shed some light on the country's high Covid death rate, which is one of the ten worst in the world.

The Czech Republic currently only ranks behind Croatia and Malta as the EU's fattest nation with Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland rounding out the top five countries with the highest proportion of adults with BMI higher than 25.

All European countries report more weight issues among men than women, based on an evaluation of body mass index (BMI) levels in which a BMI of over 25 is classified as overweight. Classifications of obesity start with a BMI of 30 and above.

Six out of ten Czechs are overweight, and one in five is obese. Nearly 70 percent of Czech men are overweight, while half of women have a BMI of over 25. Both proportions are significantly higher than in many other EU countries; the BMI level of Czech men is the third highest in Europe.

The link between Covid deaths and obesity is well-known. Obesity is a major risk factor when it comes to Covid, leading to various added complications which can put a patient in a more serious health situation. Indeed, obesity is a factor in around 80 per cent of Covid hospital admissions.

“We were shocked to see such a high correlation between the country’s proportion of overweight adults and its deaths from Covid-19,” Tim Lobstein, the director of a World Obesity Federation report into the connection between obesity and Covid deaths, told The Guardian last year.

Ladislav Dušek, the director of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics in the Czech Republic, told DW that “80 percent of Covid patients admitted to hospital are obese or overweight.”

Obesity researcher Jozef Čupka speaking to Denník N said, “if an overweight person becomes ill, there is a significantly higher chance of getting admitted to hospital. And if you are admitted to the hospital, there is a far higher chance of ending up in intensive care. And when you are in intensive care, there is a much higher risk of dying.”

The research also suggests a link between weight issues and levels of education. In the Czech Republic, data from the European Health Survey from 2018 to 2020 showed a clear correlation between low education and high BMI.

Yet similar differences were not found among men, among whom weight issues are more evenly distributed regardless of educational attainment.

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High levels of obesity are a major health concern even without the influence of a pandemic. Obesity leads to 4.7 million premature deaths a year, and is the fourth most common cause of death around the globe. Yet with weight issues leading to added health complications among those who catch Covid, the Czech Republic’s weight issue has become an even bigger worry.

The full effects of lockdown on the nation's waistline are yet to be felt, according to some experts who fear that the younger generation is also at risk. School closures and restrictions on free movement and leisure activities have disrupted Czech kids' eating habits, physical activity, mental well-being, and sleep patterns, researchers say.

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