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Distribution Body Mass Index (BMI) of individuals in the Netherlands 2019, by gender

Approximately half of all men in the Netherlands had a normal body weight in 2019, measured by the industry-standard Body Mass Index method. Men were more likely to be overweight than women, whereas more women than men were underweight. Interestingly, obesity was found more often among women, with approximately 14 percent of Dutch females suffering from being severely overweight. Looking at the overall population, more than half of the Dutch inhabitants aged 20 years and older were overweight.

Weight issues vary between generations

Age groups in the Netherlands suffered from several different health problems related to weight and body image. A 2019 study found that obesity occured in nearly 20 percent of Dutch inhabitants aged 50 to 64 years old, whereas only 8.3 percent of millennials (aged 18 to 34 years old) were obese. When confronted with the question of how they perceive their own bodies, nearly 50 percent of the Dutch millennials think they are overweight. This may have something to do with the omnipresence of unattainable beauty ideals on social media, often portrayed by fitgirl/boy influencers.

Global perspective

When looking at adults, the share of obesity in the Netherlands was quite close to the global average, being much lower than in the United States, Russia, or Iceland, to name but a few examples. In contrast, the prominence of underweight issues among Dutch youth was disproportionate in an international context. Nearly 10 percent of Dutch 13 and 15-year-old boys were underweight, which was more than in any other European country. the aforementioned negative body image may have been part of the cause for this frequency of underweight issues.

Distribution of Body Mass Index (BMI) of individuals in the Netherlands in 2019, by gender

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Release date

March 2020



Survey time period


Age group

4 years and older

Supplementary notes

Body Mass Index: the Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness.

<18.5: underweight
18.5-24.99: normal
25-29.99: slight overweight
>30: obese

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