IT'S official and startling – Ireland is just a short step away from becoming the "fat man of Europe", according to a new league table.
Ireland is second only to Britain when it comes to our level of obesity in the population, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has just revealed.
Europe's stark obesity league is as follows:
* UK: 24.9pc
* Ireland: 24.5pc
* Spain: 24.1pc
* Portugal: 21.6pc
* Germany: 21.3pc
* Belgium: 19.1pc
* Austria: 18.3pc
* Italy: 17.2pc
* Sweden: 16.6pc
* France: 15.6pc
It means that one in four of us is obese and we are now significantly ahead of countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden.
It blames the rise in obesity on modern lifestyles, including our overuse of the car, TVs, computers, desk-bound jobs and high-calorie food.
It is leaving us more prone to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The report points out: "If prices rise, consumers tend to maintain their level of staple food consumption by switching to cheaper, less diverse and nutritionally inferior diets."
Experts say no one country in the world has a comprehensive, long-term strategy to deal with the challenges posed by obesity.