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Average European - is overweight

The Maltese and the Greeks are the heavyweights of Europe, Hungary ranged on the 5th place figures from the European Commission reveal.

The Italians and French the most trim, while the average Briton - like the average European - is slightly over the ideal weight. Obesity, which is linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, is a growing problem across much of the developed world. The Commission plans to launch a strategy to tackle obesity next year. Obesity is measured by calculating body mass index (BMI). A BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is considered healthy, between 25 and 30 overweight and above 30 obese. The latest figures show that the average citizen in 20 EU countries, including the UK - where the average BMI is 25.4 - is overweight. The average person in the other five, including Italy and France, is officially healthy. The Maltese recorded the highest average BMI at 26.6, the Italians the lowest, at 24.3. The Hungarians ranged on the 5th at 25.6. Despite the figures, only 38% of EU citizens consider themselves to be overweight, according to the poll of about 1,000 people in each of the 25 EU member states. Most blamed a sedentary life for restricting their scope to be healthier. Less than one third said they engaged in regular "intensive" physical activity. And a large majority 85% said public authorities should play a stronger role in fighting obesity. EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: "This survey provides us with valuable insights into the concerns of EU citizens on health and nutrition." (BBC NEWS)