Objective: To estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity and weight changes over a 5-year period in a rural adult population by age group.
Subjects: Residents of Marinette County, Wis: 613 women and 352 men.
Methods: Age, body weight, and height data were collected during October and December 1997 in a volunteer convenience sample of white men and women (aged 20 to 74 years). Age groups in 10-year increments were defined by age in 1992. Weights obtained from medical and employment records from 1992 by medical personnel, as well as self-reported weights, were recorded for 1992 to assess weight changes from 1992 to 1997.
Results: In 1992 women and men had mean body weights of 72.1 and 88.4 kg, respectively. By 1997, the average weight for women in the same data set was 79.3 and that for men was 96.4 kg, a gain of 7.3 and 7.9 kg, respectively. For both women and men, those in the youngest age group (age 20 to 30 years) experienced the greatest 5-year increase in body weight: 11.0 and 12.1 kg, respectively; the next largest increase occurred in the second youngest group (age 30 to 40 years). The majority of the normal-weight subjects (58%, 229 of 393) moved into an overweight or obese category, the overweight and obese generally gained weight, and only 20 of 572 overweight or obese individuals moved from an unhealthful to a healthful body weight during the 5 years.
Applications/conclusions: The data indicate a need for community-wide weight-gain prevention programs for young adult men and women in rural areas. Weight-reduction treatment programs should be geared toward older adults, as most have already attained an unhealthful weight, which is likely to increase.