Obesity is a common problem and can involve quite serious complications. As one example of a study of the prevalence of obesity, Silverstone (1974) reports that a survey conducted in Richmond used an arbitrary criterion of an excess of 20 per cent over the median weight. The application of this standard indicated that 7.5 per cent of women under the age of 30 were overweight and 30 per cent or more of women over the age of 50. The percentage for all ages combined was 23.5 per cent for women (based on a sample of 715) and 15.4 per cent for men (where the sample size was 488). The incidence of obesity in Silverstone’s sample also varied with both age and social class. The highest rates in women were for the older age group (31.6 per cent of the 50–65 year olds) and for social class groups 4 and 5 (35.5 per cent). A similar trend was obvious for the men but the absolute rates were considerably lower (18.2 per cent for the 50–65 years group and 18.4 per cent for social classes 4 and 5). Although the prevalence and incidence rates from other studies tend to vary (depending on such factors as the samples studied and the criteria used), it is apparent that obesity is a common problem.
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