The WHO scrutinizes the health of Belgians


According to the World Health Organization, Belgians stand out due to their long life expectancy... even though alcohol consumption and the number of overweight individuals are slightly higher than the European average.

Since 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a three-yearly report on health in Europe (including Russia and Israel). On reading its latest edition, it seems that Belgium is ranked better than average for almost all criteria.

Life expectancy in the “European region” has generally increased over the last five years. While Europeans live to 77.8 years on average, Belgians live a little longer to reach the age of 81.2 (83.5 years for women and 78.8 for men). The report also observes that the number of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases such as cancer is lower in Belgium than in the entire region with 229.4 cases out of 100,000 people while the continental average is 379.6 cases. Another satisfactory statistic to our credit, the percentage of the population aged over 15 affected by smoking is only 23.9% in Belgium (27.5% for men and 20.5% for women) while the overall average is 29.2%.

However, according to the WHO study, the number of Belgians who are overweight is higher than the average of all other countries concerned by this report: 59.5% of Belgians are overweight (67.5% of men and 51.4% of women) while the average is 58.7% in the rest of Europe. That said, the number of obese individuals in Belgium is lower than the European average. As a reminder, overweight means a Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 25 and 30 whereas obese relates to a BMI of higher than 30 with serious health risks. Lastly, the report shows that with 10.36 litres of pure alcohol drunk per person on average in Belgium over a year, our alcohol consumption is slightly higher than the overall average of 16 centilitres.

Read the WHO report here.