This study evaluated the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the male Sardinian population (Italy), and verifies that it has increased over the last 30 years. Data were collected during 2003–2004 from military registers in the Archive of the Military District of Cagliari for the years 1969 and 1998. A total of 22,345 forms were analysed from all Sardinia. The conscripts were classified on the basis of their place of residence and socioeconomic status. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity in Sardinia were 4.33% and 0.55%, respectively, for the conscripts of 1969 and 9.8% and 3% for 1998. Olbia-Tempio (northern Sardinia) was the province with the highest incidence of overweight and obesity in 1969, and Nuoro (central Sardinia) had the highest incidence in 1998. Distribution of body mass index, overweight and obesity across the island showed a statistically significant heterogeneity that strongly decreased from 1969 to 1998. Among the conscripts of 1969, the incidence of overweight and obesity were higher in rural than in urban regions. An opposite trend was observed for the 1998 prevalence, it being more frequent in urban than rural regions. Comparison with other Italian regions was made. The percentages of overweight and obese individuals in Sardinia have markedly increased during the last 30 years, but their low incidence with respect to other Italian populations could be explained by the genetic peculiarity of the island. The change in the internal distribution of obesity clearly reflects socioeconomic changes.
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