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Laeknabladid. 2005 Jan;91(1):115-21.

[Trends in overweight and obesity in 45-64 year old men and women in Reykjavík 1975-1994. 2001].

[Article in Icelandic]



The aim of this study was to assess possible changes in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Iceland during the last decades. Furthermore, the possible effect of dietary changes on the observed trend in obesity prevalence was evaluated.


Participants came from stages III-V in the Reykjavik Health Study and the Reykjavik part of the MONICA studies from the period 1975-1994. The age groups 45-54 years and 55-64 years were examined. Only the information from the first visit of each person was included. The body mass index (BMI) for the participants was calculated and the percentage of those subjects considered overweight and obese according to WHO standards evaluated, using 25= or >BMI<30 kg/m2 as the cut-off point for overweight and BMI= or >30 kg/m2 as the cut-off point for obesity. Also, the observed trend in obesity prevalence is compared to changes in diet that have occurred in the same period.


The results show that the mean weight and height of both men and women have been increasing during the study period. However, weight has increased more than can be accounted for by increased height, resulting in increased BMI. At the same time, the prevalence of overweight and obesity have increased, the relative increase in obesity far exceeding the relative increase in overweight. The prevalence of obesity more than doubled in both age groups of women during the study period, according to trend analyses. At the end of the period, almost 15% (95% confidence interval (CI), 9-22%) in the younger group of women and 25% (95% CI, 17-34%) in the older group were classified as obese. In the younger group of men, the prevalence of obesity almost doubled, while the observed increase in the older group was not statistically significant, according to trend analyses. The prevalence of obesity in the final period was about 19% (95% CI, 13-27%) and 17% (95% CI, 11-25%) in the younger and older groups of men, respectively. According to the food supply statistics there have been insignificant changes in the consumption of energy nutrients during the period.


Overweight and obesity are becoming more common among middle-aged men and women in Reykjavik, during the period 1975-1994 and the rate of increase being comparable to that observed in many Western countries. It is urgent to respond to this problem by promoting a healthier lifestyle, both with respect to diet and physical activity.

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