Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Overweight in dogs, but not in cats, is related to overweight in their owners

Marieke L Nijlanda1, Frank Stama2 and Jacob C Seidella3 p1 c1

a1 Faculty of Medicine, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, The Netherlands

a3 Department of Nutrition and Health, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract

Objective To quantify the environmental component of aetiology of overweight and obesity by examining the relationship between the degree of overweight in dogs and cats and the degree of overweight in their owners.

Design Cross-sectional study. Main outcome measures of the owners were weight, height (stature) and BMI. Of the animals, weight and divergence from ideal weight were measured by a veterinarian.

Setting Three veterinary clinics in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Subjects Dogs and cats, together with their owners, who visited the veterinary clinic. Dogs and cats had to be older than 1 year, and their owners had to be at least 21 years old. After exclusion, there remained forty-seven pairs of dogs and their owners and thirty-six pairs of cats and their owners.

Results We found a significant relationship between the degree of overweight of dogs and the BMI of their owners (r = 0·31). Correction for length of ownership, gender and age of the animal, and gender, age, education level and activity score of the owner did not materially affect this relationship. However, after correction for the amount of time the dog was being walked each day, this relationship disappeared. No significant relationship was found between the degree of overweight of cats and the BMI of their owners.

Conclusions The degree to which dogs are overweight is, in contrast to the degree to which cats are overweight, related to the BMI of their owners.

(Received August 26 2008)

(Accepted April 29 2009)

(Online publication June 23 2009)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email jaap.seidell@falw.vu.nl

p1 Address for correspondence: Institute of Health Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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