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Obes Res. 2004 Apr;12(4):710-5.

Prevalence of overweight and obesity in elderly people in Spain.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain.



To estimate the prevalence of obesity and overweight in the older adult population in Spain by sex, age, and educational level.


A cross-sectional study was carried out in 2001 in a sample of 4009 persons representative of the noninstitutionalized population > or = 60 years of age. Anthropometric measurements (BMI and waist circumference) were obtained using standardized techniques and equipment. Overweight was considered at a BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/m2 and obesity at a BMI of > or = 30 kg/m2. Central obesity was considered at a waist circumference of >102 cm in men and >88 cm in women.


The mean BMI was 28.2 kg/m2 in men and 29.3 kg/m2 in women. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in men was 49% and 31.5%, respectively. The corresponding percentages in women were 39.8% and 40.8%. The prevalence of obesity was higher in persons with no education than in those with third level education (i.e., university studies), especially among women (41.8% vs. 17.5%). The prevalence of central obesity was 48.4% in men and 78.4% in women. Differences by educational level were seen in only women, in whom the prevalence of central obesity was 80.9% in those with no education and 59% in those with third-level education.


The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the Spanish adult elderly population is very high. Some other populations show similar prevalences, especially in Mediterranean countries. Socioeconomic conditions in Spain during the years these cohorts were born may partly explain the high-frequency of obesity.

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