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Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies$
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Avner Offer, Rachel Pechey, and Stanley Ulijaszek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264980

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264980.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

The History of the Obesity Epidemic in Denmark

The History of the Obesity Epidemic in Denmark

(p.161) Chapter 9 The History of the Obesity Epidemic in Denmark
Insecurity, Inequality, and Obesity in Affluent Societies

Thorkild I. A. Sørensen

Benjamin Rokholm

Teresa A. Ajslev

British Academy

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

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