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Title: In search of weight loss – a four-country survey on what people were doing for losing weight at the turn of the century
Other Titles: À procura do peso perdido – estudo do que fazem os habitantes de quatro países ao virar do século
Authors: Santos, Osvaldo
Sermeus, Guy
do Carmo, Isabel
Anelli, Marco
Kupers, Peter
Martin, Eduardo
Keywords: Excesso de peso
Controlo do peso corporal
Issue Date: Mar-2010
Publisher: NEDO
Abstract: Purpose. Overweight is one of the most prevalent public health problems of developed countries, implying complex and multi-approach community and individual preventive actions. Although this is a well known and documented issue in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain, little is known on individual slimming behavior, including pathogenic behavior. This study, promoted and conducted by the main consumer association of each of the four indicated countries at the turn of this century, had as main goal to collect 18-74 years old adult populationrepresentative data regarding weight-control (i.e., maintaining weight status or slimming) behavior. Methods. A population-based representative mail survey using a self-administered standardized questionnaire on life-styles and slimming behavior was conducted in three South-European countries (Italy, Portugal and Spain) and in one Central-European country (Belgium). The questionnaire addressed indicators of life-style, including questions about weight-control behavior. Results. A total of 8509 adult people (between 18 and 74 years old) persons answered the questionnaire. For each person, Quetelet’s index of body mass (BMI) was calculated from self-reported weight and height. In all countries, men had significantly higher BMI means and were more affected by overweight (including obesity) than women. For the overall sample, 39% of people felt in the overweight category (10% of these with obesity). On the other hand, self-reported worry and dissatisfaction with body weight, size, shape, weight and look, as well as prevalence of weight-control behavior were more prevalent in women than in men. Trying to reduce weight without any expert advice was reported by 52,2% of overweight people and by 31,5% of obese people. Those who looked for professional help opted mainly by medical doctors and nutrition experts (prevalence of psychological interventions were marginal). In every country, diet regimen, specific slimming method/program, and other life-style changes (e.g., stop drinking alcohol, increasing physical activity) were the most prevalent ways of controlling weight. More than 25% of respondents reported to have gained back the lost weight and in 12.2% of cases, people arrived to higher values of weight than before starting the slimming attempt. Conclusions. Collected data point out to high prevalence of weight- control behavior without specialized counseling/support. These results suggests the need to implement continuous prevention programs, enhancing the accessibility to overweight-related health care (in terms of information and reduction of costs and waiting-lists). Such community-level prevention programs should, ultimately, aim to promote individual autonomous motivation to look for specialized help for the individual adoption of healthy weight promoting life-styles.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:PSI - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Nacionais Com Arbitragem Científica

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