Open Access Research article

Prevalence of obesity and abdominal obesity in the Lausanne population

Pedro Marques-Vidal12*, Murielle Bochud2, Vincent Mooser3, Fred Paccaud2, Gérard Waeber4 and Peter Vollenweider4

Author Affiliations

1 Cardiomet, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), University of Lausanne, Switzerland

3 Genetics Division, GlaxoSmithKline, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

4 Department of Medicine, Internal Medicine, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:330  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-330

Published: 24 September 2008



Obesity can be defined using body mass index (BMI) or waist (abdominal obesity). Little information exists regarding its prevalence and determinants in Switzerland. Hence, we assessed the levels of obesity as defined by BMI or waist circumference in a Swiss population-based sample.


Cross-sectional, population-based non-stratified random sample of 3,249 women and 2,937 men aged 35–75 years living in Lausanne, Switzerland. Overall participation rate was 41%.


In men, the prevalences of overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) were 45.5% and 16.9%, respectively, higher than in women (28.3% and 14.3%, respectively). The prevalence of abdominal obesity (waist ≥102 in men and ≥88 cm in women) was higher in women than in men (30.6% vs. 23.9%). Obesity and abdominal obesity increased with age and decreased with higher educational level in both genders. In women, the prevalence of obesity was lower among former and current smokers, whereas in men the prevalence of obesity was higher in former smokers but did not differ between current and never smokers. Multivariate analysis showed age to be positively related, and education and physical activity to be negatively related with obesity and abdominal obesity in both genders, whereas differential effects of smoking were found between genders.


The prevalence of abdominal obesity is higher than BMI-derived obesity in the Swiss population. Women presented with more abdominal obesity than men. The association between smoking and obesity levels appears to differ between genders.