APH 2006, 64, 123-142:

Prevalence of overweight, obesity and abdominal obesity in Flemish adults.

N. Duvigneaud, K. Wijndaele, L. Matton, P. Deriemaeker, R. Philippaerts, J. Lefevre, M. Thomis, W. Duquet

Keywords: abdominal fat, Belgium, body mass index, Europe, obesity

Aims: To report the prevalence of overweight, obesity and abdominal obesity (AO) in a sample of the Flemish adult population of Belgium, as measured in the “Sport, Physical Activity and Health Study (SPAH, 2002-2004)”. To compare these results with data of Flemish adults in the “Belgian Health Interview Surveys (HIS)” of 1997, 2001 and 2004, and with the obesity prevalence in Europe and in the US.

Methods: Between 2002-2004, 5170 subjects of an original random sample, aged 18-75 years, participated in this study. Among other measurements weight, height and waist circumference (WC) were measured by trained staff.

Results: The present overweight prevalence in Flanders is higher in men than in women, 41.4% and 29.8% respectively. When comparing the results of the SPAH with those of the HIS, the overweight prevalence has increased in both men and women. The weighed obesity prevalence in the SPAH is 10.7% in men and 10.2% in women and thus lower than in the US and other European countries. The prevalence of AO also increases with age: from 0.9% to 26.3% and from 2.3% to 38.5% in men and women respectively.

Conclusions: The obesity prevalence in Flemish adults is considerable, but less dramatic than in some other European countries and
the US. Worldwide similar projects to assess the obesity prevalence are needed to allow comparisons between the different countries on a more reliable basis. They should include a uniform standardization of WC measurement and objective measurements of weight and height.