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Prevalence of obesity in Portugal


Professor Dra. I do Carmo, Faculdade de Medicina de Lisboa, Av. Professor Egas Moniz, Lisboa 1649-028, Portugal. E-mail:


Obesity is a serious health problem in developed countries. Knowledge of reliable and nationwide representative data is a must for any public health action. The dimension of this problem in Portugal was first assessed in 1995–1998. A similar populational survey using objective anthropometric measures is now being conducted (field work started in January 2003). A total of 6411 subjects aged 18–64 years old have already been measured and their respective body mass indexes (BMIs) calculated. Results from 2003 to 2005 show 38.6% is overweight and 13.8% has obesity. The total of overweight and obesity is 52.4%. In 1995–1998 survey, overweight was 35.2% and obesity was 14.4%. The total was 49.6%. These results suggest an increase of the overweight/obesity (altogether) prevalence in the last 10 years. Actual results show that more than half of the adult sample has excessive weight and 2.4% of the sample has low BMI. Finally, 45.6% of the sample suffers increased health risks because of high waist circumference (≥80 cm for women; ≥94 cm for men). These results highlight the fact that, although obesity was identified as a public health problem one decade ago, action to reduce it does not seem to have been very effective to date.