Logo of amjphAmerican Journal of Public Health Web SiteAmerican Public Health Association Web SiteSubmissionsSubscriptionsAbout Us
Am J Public Health. 1998 December; 88(12): 1814–1820.
PMCID: PMC1509048

Quality of life in relation to overweight and body fat distribution.


OBJECTIVES: This study quantified the impairment of quality of life attributable to body fatness by using the standardized SF-36 Health Survey. METHODS: Tertiles of waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) in 1885 men and 2156 women aged 20 to 59 years in the Netherlands in 1995 were compared. RESULTS: The odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals of subjects with the largest waist circumferences, compared with those in the lowest tertile, were 1.8 (1.3, 2.4) in men and 2.2 (1.7, 2.9) in women with difficulties in bending, kneeling, or stooping; 2.2 (1.4, 3.7) in men and 1.7 (1.2, 2.6) in women with difficulties in walking 500 m; and 1.3 (1.0, 1.9) in men and 1.5 (1.1, 1.9) in women with difficulties in lifting or carrying groceries. Anthropometric measures were less strongly associated with social functioning, role limitations due to physical or emotional problems, mental health, vitality, pain, or health change in 1 year. The relationship between quality of life measures and BMI were similar to those between quality of life measures and waist circumference. CONCLUSIONS: Large waist circumferences and high BMIs are more likely to be associated with impaired quality of life and disability affecting basic activities of daily living.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.8M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Kuczmarski RJ, Flegal KM, Campbell SM, Johnson CL. Increasing prevalence of overweight among US adults. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1960 to 1991. JAMA. 1994 Jul 20;272(3):205–211. [PubMed]
  • Seidell JC. Obesity in Europe: scaling an epidemic. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1995 Sep;19 (Suppl 3):S1–S4. [PubMed]
  • Ohlson LO, Larsson B, Svärdsudd K, Welin L, Eriksson H, Wilhelmsen L, Björntorp P, Tibblin G. The influence of body fat distribution on the incidence of diabetes mellitus. 13.5 years of follow-up of the participants in the study of men born in 1913. Diabetes. 1985 Oct;34(10):1055–1058. [PubMed]
  • Lapidus L, Bengtsson C, Larsson B, Pennert K, Rybo E, Sjöström L. Distribution of adipose tissue and risk of cardiovascular disease and death: a 12 year follow up of participants in the population study of women in Gothenburg, Sweden. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984 Nov 10;289(6454):1257–1261. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Larsson B, Svärdsudd K, Welin L, Wilhelmsen L, Björntorp P, Tibblin G. Abdominal adipose tissue distribution, obesity, and risk of cardiovascular disease and death: 13 year follow up of participants in the study of men born in 1913. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984 May 12;288(6428):1401–1404. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • den Tonkelaar I, Seidell JC, Collette HJ. Body fat distribution in relation to breast cancer in women participating in the DOM-project. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1995 Apr;34(1):55–61. [PubMed]
  • Giovannucci E, Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Physical activity, obesity, and risk for colon cancer and adenoma in men. Ann Intern Med. 1995 Mar 1;122(5):327–334. [PubMed]
  • Manson JE, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, Hankinson SE, Hennekens CH, Speizer FE. Body weight and mortality among women. N Engl J Med. 1995 Sep 14;333(11):677–685. [PubMed]
  • Simopoulos AP, Van Itallie TB. Body weight, health, and longevity. Ann Intern Med. 1984 Feb;100(2):285–295. [PubMed]
  • Stewart AL, Brook RH. Effects of being overweight. Am J Public Health. 1983 Feb;73(2):171–178. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Launer LJ, Harris T, Rumpel C, Madans J. Body mass index, weight change, and risk of mobility disability in middle-aged and older women. The epidemiologic follow-up study of NHANES I. JAMA. 1994 Apr 13;271(14):1093–1098. [PubMed]
  • Colditz GA. Economic costs of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Feb;55(2 Suppl):503S–507S. [PubMed]
  • Stewart AL, Hays RD, Wells KB, Rogers WH, Spritzer KL, Greenfield S. Long-term functioning and well-being outcomes associated with physical activity and exercise in patients with chronic conditions in the Medical Outcomes Study. J Clin Epidemiol. 1994 Jul;47(7):719–730. [PubMed]
  • Han TS, McNeill G, Seidell JC, Lean ME. Predicting intra-abdominal fatness from anthropometric measures: the influence of stature. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1997 Jul;21(7):587–593. [PubMed]
  • Mossey JM, Shapiro E. Self-rated health: a predictor of mortality among the elderly. Am J Public Health. 1982 Aug;72(8):800–808. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kaplan GA, Camacho T. Perceived health and mortality: a nine-year follow-up of the human population laboratory cohort. Am J Epidemiol. 1983 Mar;117(3):292–304. [PubMed]
  • Idler EL, Kasl SV, Lemke JH. Self-evaluated health and mortality among the elderly in New Haven, Connecticut, and Iowa and Washington counties, Iowa, 1982-1986. Am J Epidemiol. 1990 Jan;131(1):91–103. [PubMed]
  • Pijls LT, Feskens EJ, Kromhout D. Self-rated health, mortality, and chronic diseases in elderly men. The Zutphen Study, 1985-1990. Am J Epidemiol. 1993 Nov 15;138(10):840–848. [PubMed]
  • Kaplan G, Barell V, Lusky A. Subjective state of health and survival in elderly adults. J Gerontol. 1988 Jul;43(4):S114–S120. [PubMed]
  • Maddox GL, Douglass EB. Self-assessment of health: a longitudinal study of elderly subjects. J Health Soc Behav. 1973 Mar;14(1):87–93. [PubMed]
  • LaRue A, Bank L, Jarvik L, Hetland M. Health in old age: how do physicians' ratings and self-ratings compare? J Gerontol. 1979 Sep;34(5):687–691. [PubMed]
  • Han TS, Feskens EJ, Lean ME, Seidell JC. Associations of body composition with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabet Med. 1998 Feb;15(2):129–135. [PubMed]
  • Staffieri JR. A study of social stereotype of body image in children. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1967 Sep;7(1):101–104. [PubMed]
  • Allon N. Self-perceptions of the stigma of overweight in relationship to weight-losing patterns. Am J Clin Nutr. 1979 Feb;32(2):470–480. [PubMed]
  • Sobal J, Nicolopoulos V, Lee J. Attitudes about overweight and dating among secondary school students. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1995 Jun;19(6):376–381. [PubMed]
  • Sullivan M, Karlsson J, Sjöström L, Backman L, Bengtsson C, Bouchard C, Dahlgren S, Jonsson E, Larsson B, Lindstedt S, et al. Swedish obese subjects (SOS)--an intervention study of obesity. Baseline evaluation of health and psychosocial functioning in the first 1743 subjects examined. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1993 Sep;17(9):503–512. [PubMed]
  • Hill AJ, Silver EK. Fat, friendless and unhealthy: 9-year old children's perception of body shape stereotypes. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1995 Jun;19(6):423–430. [PubMed]
  • Seidell JC, Bakx KC, Deurenberg P, Burema J, Hautvast JG, Huygen FJ. The relation between overweight and subjective health according to age, social class, slimming behavior and smoking habits in Dutch adults. Am J Public Health. 1986 Dec;76(12):1410–1415. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from American Journal of Public Health are provided here courtesy of American Public Health Association


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...