Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Overweight, obesity and fat distribution in 50- to 64-year-old participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)

M Haftenbergera1 c1, PH Lahmanna1, S Panicoa2, CA Gonzaleza3, JC Seidella4, H Boeinga1, MC Giurdanellaa5, V Krogha6, HB Bueno-de-Mesquitaa4, PHM Peetersa7, G Skeiea8, A Hjartåkera9, M Rodrigueza10, JR Quirósa11, G Berglunda12, U Janlerta13, KT Khawa14, EA Spencera15, K Overvada16, A Tjønnelanda17, F Clavel-Chapelona18, B Teharda18, AB Millera19, K Klipstein-Grobuscha1, V Benetoua20, G Kiriazia20, E Ribolia21 and N Slimania21

a1 Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Arthur Scheunert Allee 114–116, D-14558 Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany

a2 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University, Naples, Italy

a3 Department of Epidemiology, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain

a4 Centre of Chronic Diseases Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a5 Cancer Registry, 'Civili – M.P. Arezzo' Hospital, Ragusa, Italy

a6 Epidemiology Unit, National Cancer Institute, Milan, Italy

a7 Julius Center for General Practice and Patient Oriented Research, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

a8 Institute for Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway

a9 Section for Medical Statistics, University of Oslo, Norway

a10 Andalusian School of Public Health, Granada, Spain

a11 Council for Health and Social Affairs of Asturia, Oviedo, Spain

a12 Department of Medicine, Lund University, Malmö University Hospital, Sweden

a13 Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, University of Umeå, Sweden

a14 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK

a15 Cancer Research UK, Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, UK

a16 Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Aarhus, Denmark

a17 Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark

a18 INSERM, E3N–EPIC Group, Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France

a19 Division of Clinical Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany

a20 Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Greece

a21 International Agency for Cancer Research, Lyon, France


Objective: To describe anthropometric characteristics of participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

Design: A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data of a European prospective cohort study.

Subjects: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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).

Conclusions: 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.


c1 *Corresponding author: Email