Prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity among farmers from Crete (Greece), four decades after the Seven Countries Study

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Mar;19(3):156-62. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2008.10.008. Epub 2009 Jan 26.


Background and aim: As first shown 40 years ago farmers from Crete had one of the healthiest lifestyles compared to other participants of the Seven Countries Study. Taking the above into account we investigated the prevalence of obesity and its indexes among farmers in Crete in 2005.

Methods and results: 502 farmers (18-79 years old) from the Valley of Messara in Crete were randomly selected and examined. Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (W/Hip Ratio), waist-to-height ratio (W/Height Ratio), conicity index, percentage of body fat and hours of daily light physical activity (LPhA) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPhA) were calculated for each subject. 86,1% of the study population was overweight and/or obese. Specifically 42.9% had a BMI of 25.1-30 kg/m(2) and were overweight and 43.2% were obese with a BMI>30 kg/m(2). The percentage of body fat was estimated at 27.3% of total body weight among males and 39.3% among females, while all obesity indexes were found to differ between genders.

Conclusions: In comparison to middle aged male farmers from Crete in the 1960s, mean weight has increased by 20 kg (83 kg vs. 63 kg), which has lead to a 7 kg/m(2) in mean BMI (22.9 kg/m(2) vs. 29.8 kg/m(2)), findings that support the fact that the prevalence of obesity in Greece has risen dramatically over the years, even among farmers from Crete, a population historically known for being the gold standard of health status globally.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agriculture*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Time Factors
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio
  • Weight Gain
  • Young Adult