London: British women are officially the most overweight in Europe.

A quarter are obese — so fat it threatens their health — according to alarming figures.

This is a far higher proportion than in the other countries of Western Europe.

British men are doing almost as badly, with more than one in five classed as obese, according to the authoritative figures.

Experts are especially concerned by the young age at which so many women here are developing serious weight problems.

A disturbing 16 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 are obese — up to 16 times higher than many other European countries where the rate is between 1 per cent and 3 per cent.

Young men are doing better, around 6 per cent are obese, but an incredible one third of men aged 45-64 are obese in the UK.

The deeply troubling figures are contained in a report from Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, which compares obesity levels in 19 countries from 2008-09.

Only the US and Ireland, which are not included in the league table, have higher obesity rates in the developed world.

— Daily Mail