The History of the Obesity Epidemic in Denmark

Thorkild I. A. Sørensen, Benjamin Rokholm and Teresa A. Ajslev

in Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies

Published by British Academy

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780197264980
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754135 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The History of the Obesity Epidemic in Denmark

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The prevailing interpretation of the global epidemic of obesity is that it is a consequence of changes in societies toward more so-called obesogenic environments, changes which involve the emergence of living conditions that promote persisting positive energy balance. A critical implication of this contention is that the development of the epidemic has followed the corresponding development of the obesogenic environment. This chapter focuses on the history of the obesity epidemic in Danish children and young adult men since the interwar period. Surprisingly, the epidemic has developed in sharply delineated phases closely linked to year of birth, a pattern that is not concordant with the presumed obesogenic changes, which are also problematic for other theoretical and empirical reasons. These findings suggest that the drivers of the epidemic are some changes in the perinatal environment, perhaps even before conception, increasing risk of obesity later in life. Identification of these drivers of the epidemic may offer strong preventive tools to combat obesity.

Keywords: obesity; obesogenic environments; positive energy balance; Denmark; perinatal environment; risk of obesity; preventive tools

Chapter.  6972 words. 

Subjects: Health, Illness, and Medicine

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