The purpose was to investigate a possible levelling off in the obesity epidemic, by systematically reviewing literature and web-based sources. Eligible studies and data sources were required to have at least two measures of obesity prevalence since 1999. A literature and Internet search resulted in 52 studies from 25 different countries. The findings supported an overall levelling off of the epidemic in children and adolescents from Australia, Europe, Japan and the USA. In adults, stability was found in the USA, while increases were still observed in some European and Asian countries. Some evidence for heterogeneity in the obesity trends across socioeconomic status (SES) groups was found. The levelling off was less evident in the lower-SES groups. No obvious differences between genders were identified. We discussed potential explanations for a levelling off and the utility of investigating obesity trends to identify the driving forces behind the epidemic. It is important to emphasize that the levelling off is not tantamount to calling off the epidemic. Additionally, it is worthwhile to keep in mind that previous stable phases have been followed by further increases in the prevalence of obesity. Therefore, research into the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity should remain a priority.
© 2010 The Authors. obesity reviews © 2010 International Association for the Study of Obesity.