Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Obesity rates have nearly doubled in Britain over the past 20 years and 63 percent of the adult population is now considered overweight, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The OECD report says 27 percent of Britain's population is obese, while another 36 percent is overweight. Those numbers rank Britain as the heaviest country in Europe and the sixth-heaviest among the world's 35 wealthiest countries in the world. Only Australia, Finland, New Zealand, the United States and Mexico weigh more than Britain.
Of the 35 nations, Japan, Korea, Switzerland Italy and Norway have the lowest rates of overweight and obese people.
Britain's current obesity and overweight rates have risen sharply since the 1990's, when 14 percent of the British adult population was obese. Today, a 14 percent obesity rate would be in the bottom 10 of the 35 wealthiest nations. Austria and Denmark, ranked 30th and 29th on the list, have obesity rates of 14.7 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively.
Despite Britain's weight problem, overall health indicators remain strong. Life expectancy is 81 years, which is slightly higher than the 80.6 years OECD average. This could be due in part to Britons drinking less than they used to, with average alcohol consumption down from 10.4 liters in 2000 to the current 9.5 liters, according to the OECD report.
Britain's current smoking rate of 16 percent is also down compared to the OECD average of 18.4 percent.
British people also have access to low-cost, quality healthcare, due to the country's National Health Service
"The average access to care is generally good. Out of pocket payments are low, and few people report skipping consultations due to the cost of care -- 4.2 percent compared to an average of 10.5 percent among 17 OECD countries with comparable data," the report says.