Journal of Community Health

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 234–241 | Cite as

The Landscape of Overweight and Obesity in Icelandic Adolescents: Geographic Variation in Body-Mass Index Between 2000 and 2009

  • I. E. ÞórisdóttirEmail author
  • A. L. Kristjansson
  • I. D. Sigfusdottir
  • J. P. Allegrante
Original Paper


The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased globally. This study examined the geographic variation in overweight and obesity trends among Icelandic adolescents in urban and rural areas. Data from two cross-sectional population-based samples of 14- and 15-year-old students attending the compulsory 9th and 10th grades of the Icelandic secondary school system in 2000 and 2009 were used to calculate body mass index (BMI). Overweight and obesity rates were represented for 17 zones on maps created with the ArcGis geographic information and imaging software. Results were that males had higher rates of overweight and obesity than females in both 2000 and 2009, with a significant difference for both genders between years. Mean BMI was higher for rural areas than urban areas in both study years. Out of 17 geographic zones, the prevalence of obesity increased between 2000 and 2009 for males in 16; however, the one remaining zone had the highest increase in overweight. Obesity increased in 13 zones for girls and decreased in four from 2000 to 2009. Mean BMI rose between the study years but fewer zones differentiated from each other in 2009 than 2000. The prevalence of overweight and obesity increased among Icelandic adolescents in both urban and rural areas; however, rural areas have higher rates of obesity, overweight, and mean BMI than urban areas. Because of diminishing differences between areas from 2000 to 2009 the increase in mean BMI, increases in overweight, and obesity appear to be more rapid in urban areas than rural areas.


Adolescence BMI Geographic variation Obesity Overweight Rural Urban 



This work was partially supported by grants from the Icelandic Alcohol and Drug Prevention Committee, the Icelandic Red Cross, the City of Reykjavik, and the Sports and Recreational Committee of Reykjavik to the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis.

Conflict of interest

We disclose that we have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. E. Þórisdóttir
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. L. Kristjansson
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. D. Sigfusdottir
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. P. Allegrante
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Icelandic Centre for Social Research and AnalysisReykjavik UniversityReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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