Quality of life in relation to overweight and body fat distribution

Am J Public Health. 1998 Dec;88(12):1814-20. doi: 10.2105/ajph.88.12.1814.


Objectives: This study quantified the impairment of quality of life attributable to body fatness by using the standardized SF-36 Health Survey.

Methods: Tertiles of waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) in 1885 men and 2156 women aged 20 to 59 years in the Netherlands in 1995 were compared.

Results: The odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals of subjects with the largest waist circumferences, compared with those in the lowest tertile, were 1.8 (1.3, 2.4) in men and 2.2 (1.7, 2.9) in women with difficulties in bending, kneeling, or stooping; 2.2 (1.4, 3.7) in men and 1.7 (1.2, 2.6) in women with difficulties in walking 500 m; and 1.3 (1.0, 1.9) in men and 1.5 (1.1, 1.9) in women with difficulties in lifting or carrying groceries. Anthropometric measures were less strongly associated with social functioning, role limitations due to physical or emotional problems, mental health, vitality, pain, or health change in 1 year. The relationship between quality of life measures and BMI were similar to those between quality of life measures and waist circumference.

Conclusions: Large waist circumferences and high BMIs are more likely to be associated with impaired quality of life and disability affecting basic activities of daily living.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Body Constitution*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Social Behavior