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Distribution of population by BMI in Belgium 1997-2018

In 2018, roughly 48 percent of the Belgian population had what is considered to be a healthy BMI. From 1997 to 2018, however, the share of underweight Belgians decreased as the share of overweight and obese Belgians increased. In 2018, a third of the Belgian population was considered overweight and roughly 16 percent of Belgians fell into the obese classification. These body mass indexes are linked to various health conditions such as premature death, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

BMI and healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle plays an important part in one’s general health. According to a survey conducted in 2018, only 40 percent of Belgian respondents stated to get enough physical exercise. This survey further revealed that only half of Belgian respondents believed to have a healthy diet. In other words, some Belgians struggle to get enough physical activity, while some Belgians find it hard to maintain a healthy diet. Although the previously mentioned health conditions are not exclusively affected by sports and diet, the BMI can be a useful health indicator, nonetheless.

BMI and correlated health risks

The prevention of cardiovascular diseases in Belgium appears to be relatively efficient. In 2018, over 90 percent of the population had their blood pressure measured in the last five years. Furthermore, over 70 percent of the population had their cholesterol and blood sugar measured in the last three years. Nonetheless, the share of Belgians who suffer from diabetes increased over the years. Although type 2 diabetes can go undetected for quite an extent of time, an estimated five to six percent of Belgians suffered from diabetes in 2018. Over a BMI of 25, the risk of cancer is heightened. In 2018, the prevalence of cancer reached 2.1 percent among men and 2.8 percent among women in Belgium.

Distribution of the Belgian adult population according to their average Body Mass Index (BMI) from 1997 to 2018

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

1997 to 2018

Number of respondents

9,295 respondents

Age group

18 years and older

Method of interview

Face-to-face interview

Supplementary notes

The BMI of respondents is dividing the weight in kilograms by the height in meters, squared. The figures have been taken from several publications.

**The results have been weighted to represent the entire population of Belgium using a logistic regression by age and/or gender.

No proof of height and weight has been requested. Therefore, the figures are based on the respondent's statement.

The number of respondents varied from one year to another as follows:

1997: 8,071 respondents
2001: 9,391 respondents
2004: 10,319 respondents
2008: 8,831 respondents
2013: 8,618 respondents
2018: 9,295 respondents

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