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To review the evidence on the diet and nutrition causes of obesity and to recommend strategies to reduce obesity prevalence.
The evidence for potential aetiological factors and strategies to reduce obesity prevalence was reviewed, and recommendations for public health action, population nutrition goals and further research were made.
Protective factors against obesity were considered to be: regular physical activity (convincing); a high intake of dietary non-starch polysaccharides (NSP)/fibre (convincing); supportive home and school environments for children (probable); and breastfeeding (probable). Risk factors for obesity were considered to be sedentary lifestyles (convincing); a high intake of energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods (convincing); heavy marketing of energy-dense foods and fast food outlets (probable); sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices (probable); adverse social and economic conditions—developed countries, especially in women (probable).
A broad range of strategies were recommended to reduce obesity prevalence including: influencing the food supply to make healthy choices easier; reducing the marketing of energy dense foods and beverages to children; influencing urban environments and transport systems to promote physical activity; developing community-wide programmes in multiple settings; increased communications about healthy eating and physical activity; and improved health services to promote breastfeeding and manage currently overweight or obese people.
The increasing prevalence of obesity is a major health threat in both low- and high income countries. Comprehensive programmes will be needed to turn the epidemic around.
To describe anthropometric characteristics of participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data of a European prospective cohort study.
This analysis includes study populations from 25 centres in nine European countries. The British populations comprised both a population-based and a ‘health-conscious’ group. The analysis was restricted to 83 178 men and 163 851 women aged 50–64 years, this group being represented in all centres.
Anthropometric examinations were undertaken by trained observers using standardised methods and included measurements of weight, height, and waist and hip circumferences. In the ‘health-conscious’ group (UK), anthropometric measures were predicted from self-reports.
Except in the ‘health-conscious’ group (UK) and in the French centres, mean body mass index (BMI) exceeded 25.0 kg m-2. The prevalence of obesity (BMI≥30 kg m-2) varied from 8% to 40% in men, and from 5% to 53% in women, with high prevalences (>25%) in the centres from Spain, Greece, Ragusa and Naples (Italy) and the lowest prevalences (<10%) in the French centres and the ‘health-conscious’ group (UK). The prevalence of a large waist circumference or a high waist-to-hip ratio was high in centres from Spain, Greece, Ragusa and Naples (Italy) and among women from centres in Germany and Bilthoven (The Netherlands).
Anthropometric measures varied considerably within the EPIC population. These data provide a strong base for further investigation of anthropometric measures in relation to the risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer.
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