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Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Jul;29(7):875-7.

The obesity epidemic in young men is not confined to low social classes--a time series of 18-year-old German men at medical examination for military service with different educational attainment.

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Institute of Social Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany.



Obesity prevalence is increasing worldwide and obesity is associated with low education. To assess if the overall increase of obesity prevalence is due to increasing obesity prevalence among low educated strata only.


Data on n=1,883,783 males in their 19th year of life seen at physical examinations due to general conscription in Germany from 1989 to 1998.


Stature and weight were measured in underpants and obesity defined as body mass index > 30 kg/m(2).


From 1989 to 1998 an increase of body mass index values >70th percentile was observed. Overall obesity prevalence increased from 3.4% (95% CI 3.3-3.5) to 5.7% (95% CI 5.6-5.8). During the whole observation period, the prevalence of obesity was inversely related to educational level. The increase of obesity prevalence, however, was unrelated to educational level: for education less than 10 y from 4.9% (95% CI 4.7-5.0) to 7.7% (95% CI 7.5-7.9), for education of 10 y from 2.6% (95% CI 2.5-2.7) to 5.3% (95% CI 5.1-5.5) and for education of more than 10 y from 1.6% (95% CI 1.4-1.8) to 3.4% (95%CI 3.2-3.5).


Prevalence of obesity increased among recruits of all educational levels, suggesting that preventive measures against obesity have to target all educational levels.

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