Obesity: a growing problem

Department of Chronic Disease and Environmental Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands.
Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway: 1992). Supplement 03/1999; 88(428):46-50. DOI: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1999.tb14350.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or more, is common in many parts of the world, especially in the established market economies, the former socialist economies of Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle Eastern Crescent. As many as 250 million people worldwide may be obese (7% of the adult population) and two to three times as many may be considered overweight. The prevalence of obesity seems to be increasing in most parts of the world, even where it used to be rare. Increased fatness, measured by a high BMI, a large waist circumference or a high waist/hip circumference ratio, is associated with many chronic diseases as well as with poor physical functioning. Assessments of the prevalence of obesity, and trends in this prevalence over time, are more difficult in children than adults, due to the lack of international criteria for classifying individuals as overweight or obese. The World Health Organization has now recommended the use of BMI-for-age percentiles, but the reference curves are still under development. France. The Netherlands, the UK and the USA are among the countries that have reported recent increases in the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents. Although there are no accurate estimates of the components of energy balance and their changes over time, the available evidence suggests that the trends in obesity rates are related more to a reduction in energy expenditure than to an increase in caloric intake. Prevention of obesity through the promotion of a healthy lifestyle is among the important challenges for the new millennium, and should start in childhood.

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    • "Obesity is one of the most common health problems with increasing prevalence worldwide among people of all ages (Flegal et al., 1998; Seidell, 1999). Obesity during childhood and adolescence is supposed to be an important determinant of whether a subject will become obese as an adult. "
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    ABSTRACT: Globally, obesity is affecting an increasing proportion of children. Physical activity plays an important role in the prevention of becoming overweight and obese in childhood and adolescence, and reducing the risk of obesity in adulthood. Puberty and the following adolescent period are acknowledged as particularly vulnerable times for the development of obesity due to sexual maturation and, in many individuals, a concomitant reduction in physical activity. In many Western settings, a large proportion of children and adolescents do not meet recommended physical activity guidelines and, typically, those who are more physically active have lower levels of body fat than those who are less active. Active behaviours have been displaced by more sedentary pursuits which have contributed to reductions in physical activity energy expenditure. Without appropriate activity engagement there is an increased likelihood that children will live less healthy lives than their parents. Owing to the high risk of overweight adolescents becoming obese adults, the engagement of children and adolescents in physical activity and sport is a fundamental goal of obesity prevention.
    British Journal of Sports Medicine 09/2011; 45(11):866-70. DOI:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090199 · 5.03 Impact Factor
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    • "Obesity is currently one of the main public health concerns in Western countries (Daniels et al., 2005; ILSI, 2000; NHS HDA, 2003; Seidell, 1999) as it is associated with morbidity and mortality at least as much as smoking, alcoholism and poverty (Manson & Bassuk, 2003; Sturm & Wells, 2001). 1 Recent studies have suggested that the percentage of obese and overweight adolescents (12–15 years) ranges between 2% and 25%, depending on country, measure and definition (e.g., McCarthy, Ellis, & Cole, 2003). These rates show a persistent, upward trend (NHS HDA, 2003; Reilly et al., 1999; "
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    ABSTRACT: Most Western societies seem to have embarked on a runaway weight-gain train, equipped with too many accelerators and not enough brakes. Adolescents have been identified as a public health risk group in this area. To uncover youths' attitudes about their health lifestyle, with a focus on overweightness, we conducted a discourse analysis using Q-methodology. Female, Dutch youths between 12 and 15 years rank-ordered statements on issues like eating behaviour, overweightness, health risks, health perceptions and motivations/obstacles for adopting a healthier lifestyle. Q-factor analysis revealed five attitudes: "carefree sporty", "worrying dependent", "contended independent", "looks over content" and "indifferent solitary". The youths were all more or less uninterested in their own health but for different reasons. For most of these youths, neither current nor future health is of major concern, because they feel physically fit, are generally satisfied and happy, or simply do not care. Some are concerned about their eating behaviour due to the consequences it has on appearance, being physically unfit or overweight. Even so, this preoccupation with eating appears far from healthy. Only one of the five health lifestyle attitudes identified combines healthy eating and exercising behaviour. Most youths appear to have little knowledge and many questions regarding health and overweightness.
    Social Science & Medicine 12/2006; 63(10):2628-39. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.06.028 · 2.56 Impact Factor
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    • "Obesity is one of the most common health problems, with increasing prevalence worldwide among people of all ages (Seidell, 1999; Bouchard, 2000). The prevalence of pediatric obesity has been increasing in the US and Europe over the last several years (Wang et al., 2002; Lobstein and Frelut, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine differences of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) among weight groups, and the associations of CRF with obesity (body mass index) in a sample of young children. Anthropometric data (height, body mass, and two skinfolds) were collected for 255 healthy children aged 8-10 years (127 boys and 128 girls). Children were placed in three groups (nonobese, overweight, and obese), using body mass index (BMI) sex- and age-specific cutoff points. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed with a 1-mile run test. Participants were separated into two groups: fit and unfit, according to age- and sex-specific scores defined by FITNESSGRAM. The prevalence of overweight (30.5% vs. 29.1%) and obesity (13.2% vs. 12.6%) was at the same magnitude for boys and girls. Overall, 109 children (42.7%) were overweight and obese. Sums of skinfolds, weight, and BMI were significantly lower (P < 0.05) in lean boys and girls compared to their overweight and obese counterparts. Regarding height, no significant differences were found in girls, while in boys, significant differences were only found between nonobese and obese. No differences were found in obesity groups according to CRF in boys, while significant differences were found for girls (P < 0.01). Logistic regression analysis showed that girls who were overweight (odds ratio = 0.05, P = 0.000) or obese (odds ratio = 0.09, P = 0.001) were likely to be unfit. No significant results were found in boys. Overweight and obese children presented higher sums of skinfolds and weight compared with their lean counterparts. Increased BMI was significantly associated with lower CRF in girls. Thus, our data clearly showed potential gender differences of body composition in CRF, which would be of great clinical significance. Therefore, even at young ages, at least for girls, the beneficial impact of low BMI values on CRF is shown with important clinical and public health implications.
    American Journal of Human Biology 05/2006; 18(3):335-41. DOI:10.1002/ajhb.20513 · 1.93 Impact Factor
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