London: It's official. Women in the UK are the fattest in Europe, according to the European Union.

It's data agency Eurostat, which looked at 19 countries, found nearly a quarter of UK women -- 23.9 percent – were recorded as being obese in the year 2008 to 2009. Just over 22 percent of UK men were classed obese coming second to Malta.

Statisticians found the share of overweight and obese people increases with age in all of the 19 member states that data was available for.

After the UK, the countries with the highest levels of female obesity were Malta, with 21.1 percent, and Latvia, where 20.9 percent fulfilled that criteria.

Meanwhile, after Malta and the UK, the countries with the highest instances of male obesity were Hungary -- where 21.4 percent fall into that category -- and the Czech Republic, where 18.4 percent are classed as such.

The UK's high levels of obesity are in stark contrast to those in countries such as Romania, where just 8 per cent of women were classed as obese along with 7.6 per cent of men.

Obesity levels were also found to be low in Italy, Bulgaria and France. In Italy, 9.3 percent of women were found to be obese and 11.3 percent men.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria levels of obesity for women and men were found to be 11.3 percent and 11.6 percent, with levels of France identified as being 12.7 per cent and 11.7
percent respectively, the 'BBC' reported.

The figures suggested that the proportion of women who are obese or overweight falls as the educational level rises.