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Paper of the Month: Obesity, age and gender

The Nutrition Society has launched a new feature ‘Paper of the month’, whereby a recently accepted paper from a Society journal, published on Cambridge Journals Online is made freely available for a limited period.

This month’s paper is from Public Health Nutrition and is entitled ‘Obesity, age and gender: important new study highlights crucial considerations for intervention and research

Obesity is a major clinical and public health concern, and accounts for approximately 3% of direct medical costs to countries globally. One third of adults worldwide and two thirds of women and men in the USA are overweight or obese.

A recent report in the journal Public Health Nutrition looks into obesity and gender factors with some important results. The study by Kimokoti et al analysed a group of men and women over a twenty six year period, taking into account age, weight, BMI, physical activity and other factors. In all BMI categories, gains were larger in younger men and women (20-39), however, BMI decreased in adults aged 50-69. Although more overweight women than men progressed to obesity at an earlier age, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was higher in men than women overall. 

This study is the first to show the association between the change in waist circumference (WC) and BMI status. A striking result from the study was the emergence of abdominal obesity, which increases the risk of many chronic diseases. Abdominal obesity is shown to be responsive to physical activity independent of weight loss, and this should be considered particularly when advising women and older adults. 

The report indicates that future research needs to consider age and sex as major factors when understanding patterns of BMI, weight and WC. Furthermore, intervention needs to take into account the prevalence of abdominal obesity and professionals should react accordingly. 

The paper is available online for a limited period