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Obesity: trend in inequality
  1. Vincent Loranta,
  2. René Tongletb
  1. aHealth Sociology and Economics Unit, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Université Catholique de Louvain, Clos Chapelle aux champs 30.41, 1200 Brussels, Belgium, bEpidemiology Unit, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Université Catholique de Louvain
  1. Dr Lorant (lorant{at}

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Overweight and obesity prevalences increased during the 1980s and 1990s in the USA1 and in Europe.2 Belgium is no exception to this trend. Using a sub-sample of working men (aged 40–54), the Belgian Interuniversity Research on Nutrition and Health (BIRNH) study showed that prevalence of obesity rose from 9% in 1978 to 15% in 1993.2

Recent findings have shown that overweight and obesity differed in areas within a region or country,1 3 but that trend in the geographical inequality has not been assessed up to now. In this paper, we examine whether such unequal distribution has changed between 1979 and 1990 among young Belgian men.


We used data from the Belgian Armed Forces Medical Examination Service, undertaking an annual clinical check of 45 000 men. Analysis was restricted to subjects aged 18–25 residing in 544 (out of 589) Belgian municipalities with at least 200 men having undergone medical examination over the entire period. Complete data were available for 98.7% of these men. Although military service was compulsory in Belgium at that time, only 62% of the male population aged 18–25 had been submitted to the Armed …

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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interests: none.