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Br Med Bull. 1997;53(2):238-52.

Assessing obesity: classification and epidemiology.

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Department of Chronic Disease and Environmental Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


Obesity is generally defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 and higher. Overweight is defined as a BMI between 25 and 30 kg/m2. The prevalence varies considerably between countries, and between regions within countries. It is estimated that more than half of adults aged 35-65 living in Europe are either overweight or obese. Overweight is more common among men than among women but obesity is more common among women. The prevalence of obesity in Europe is probably in the order of 10-20% in men and 15-25% in adult women. In most European countries who have reliable data on time-trends the prevalence of obesity seems to be increasing. In most European countries, obesity is usually inversely associated with socio-economic status, particularly among women. New classifications of overweight may be based on cut-off points for simple anthropometric measures which reflects both total adiposity as well as abdominal fatness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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