Edition 2022

Foto omschrijving: Obese people enjoying the beautiful summer weather.

How many adults are overweight?

In 2021, around half of the Dutch population aged 18 years and over were overweight. Of this group, 36 percent were moderately and 14 percent severely overweight (obesity). The other 48 percent of adults had a normal weight while 1 percent were underweight. The percentage of moderately and severely overweight adults has not changed since 2014.

Hoeveel volwassenen hebben overgewicht?How many adults are overweight?ErnstigovergewichtMannenMenVrouwenWomenSeverely overweight12%17%47%53%MatigovergewichtModerately overweightGeenovergewichtNot overweight41%31%

Being overweightnoot1 is more common among men (53 percent) than women (47 percent). Men are more frequently moderately overweight (41 percent) than women (31 percent); on the other hand, the women are more likely to be severely overweight at almost 17 percent, against 12 percent of the men.

Least overweight under 30

The lowest prevalence of overweight is found in the young adult group up to the age of 30, where 30 percent are overweight. The percentage is twice as high among 55 to 64‑year-olds and 65 to 74‑year-olds. At 22 percent, being moderately overweight is also less common in the youngest age group than in other age groups. Among the 18 to 29‑year-olds, 9 percent are severely overweight. This is lower than for the 40–74 age group. Among the 55 to 64‑year-olds, 19 percent are severely overweight.

Obesity rates, 2021 (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
Leeftijd Moderately overweight Severely overweight
18-29 yrs 21.7 8.6
30-39 yrs 34.5 11.4
40-49 yrs 34.9 16.7
50-54 yrs 41.1 15.6
55-64 yrs 41.4 18.5
65-74 yrs 42.7 17.5
75 yrs and over 39.9 13.1

Less overweight among highly educated people

Among the highly educatednoot2, 41 percent are overweight, versus 60 percent of those with a lower educational background. Highly educated people are also less often moderately or severely overweight. The percentage of severely overweight people is almost twice as high among low-educated people at 18 percent as among highly educated people (almost 10 percent).

Obesity rates by level of education, 2021 (% of persons aged 18 yrs and over)
Onderwijsniveau Moderately overweight Severely overweight
Low 41.6 18.4
Intermediate 37.4 16.5
High 30.9 9.7

The questions



The health survey asks all respondents questions on height and body weight. It asks for height in cm without shoes and body weight in kg without clothes. Pregnant women are asked questions on their body weight before their pregnancy.

The measure for underweight and overweight is the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI is the quotient of a person’s body mass (weight) in kilograms and the square of their body height in metres [kg/m2]. For adults aged 20 years and over, the criteria are as follows:

  1. Underweight: BMI < 18.5
  2. Normal weight: BMI ≥ 18.5 and < 25.0
  3. Overweight: BMI ≥ 25.0
    1. Moderately overweight: BMI ≥ 25.0 and < 30.0
    2. Severely overweight or obese: BMI ≥ 30.0

Different limit values apply to persons under the age of 20. These values depend on the person’s age and sex.

Education level

The health survey also contained questions on education. For those aged 18 to 24, the basis was the highest level of education attended. For those aged 25 years or above, the basis was the highest level of education attained.

  • Low education level: The highest education level attended or attained is primary education.
    This level includes primary education, prevocational secondary education (VMBO), the first three years of senior general secondary education (HAVO)/pre-university education (VWO) and lower secondary vocational training (entry level), formerly assistant’s training (MBO-1).
  • Secondary education level: The highest education level attended or attained is secondary education.
    This level includes upper secondary education (HAVO/VWO), basic vocational training (MBO-2), vocational training (MBO-3), and middle management and specialist education (MBO-4).
  • Higher education level: The highest education level attended or attained is higher education.
    This level comprises higher vocational education (HBO) and university education (WO).


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Irene van Kuik


Hendrik Zuidhoek

Janneke Hendriks

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Gert Jan Wijma

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Ronald van der Bie

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Gabriëlle de Vet

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Final editor

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We thank all CBS colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in numbers.