Overweight and obesity among Dutch workers: differences between occupational groups and sectors

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2010 Jan;83(1):61-8. doi: 10.1007/s00420-009-0438-1. Epub 2009 Jun 9.


Purpose: To describe the prevalence of overweight and obesity among different occupational groups and sectors in a representative sample of the Dutch working population, and to test whether these differences still exist after adjustment for socio-demographic variables.

Methods: Cross-sectional data among 7,588 working adults were used. Univariate analyses of variance was performed to test differences in body mass index (BMI) values between occupational groups (n = 7) and sectors (n = 28). Adjusted analyses were carried out to examine the role of socio-demographic factors in the differences in overweight and obesity between occupational groups and sectors.

Results: On average, the mean BMI was 24.3 kg/m(2) with 31% being overweight and 6% being obese. Those working in trade, industrial, or transportation occupations as well as the legislators and senior managers had the highest BMI and a relatively high prevalence of overweight (36.7 and 35.5%, respectively) and obesity (6.9 and 7.5%, respectively). In contrast, those working in scientific and artistic professions had the most favorable BMI profile with 25.7% being overweight and 4.2% being obese. After adjusting for sex, age, and education, the proportion of variance changed from about 0.01 to 0.10 with age being the main contributor of the differences in overweight and obesity.

Conclusions: BMI profile and prevalence of overweight and obesity differs between occupations and sectors. Despite the differences are explained partly by socio-demographic factors, based on a given distribution of age, sex, and education within each occupational group and sector, occupational group- and sector-specific strategies to prevent and reduce overweight are recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult