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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1992 Aug;16(8):565-72.

Prevalence of obesity: a comparative survey in France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Unité de Recherches Biomathématiques et Biostatistiques, INSERM U263 and SC4, Paris, France.


We investigated the differences in the prevalence of obesity between France, the United Kingdom and the United States in 1988. The analysis was made on a total sample of 5580 subjects, representative of the population aged 16-50 years in the three countries. The same questionnaire was used in all three countries. Body mass index (kg/m2) was used to assess corpulence. Significant differences in the prevalence of obesity were observed among the three countries: 7% of the population in France was obese, 9% in the UK and 15% in the USA (P less than 0.001). There was a strikingly high percentage of very obese women (more than 50% overweight) in the USA (8% of the population) as compared to the two European countries (2% in France and 3% in the UK). In all three countries, obesity was related to sex, age, level of education, marital status, physical exercise and smoking. An inverse association was found between obesity and alcohol consumption in the USA, but not in France nor in the UK. In men, prevalence of obesity remained significantly higher in the USA than in France or in the UK when adjusting for the obesity-related factors. In women, differences in prevalence of obesity between the three countries varied according to the level of exercise, income and alcohol consumption.

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