Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An anthropological exploration of childhood obesity in Greece
by Roditis, Maria L., Ph.D., Indiana University, 2012, 256; 3527777
Abstract (Summary)

For the past 30 years, the increased body weight of children and adults world-wide has been seen as a global health issue. While there are contemporary factors blamed for this increase, such as availability of fast food and decreased levels of physical activity, this change in weight is not a recent phenomenon. For the last 150 years there has been a documented increase in height and weight in many populations. While increases in height have stalled, increases in weight have surged forward. Looking at historical trends that have pushed this change in height and weight allows for considerations of inherent evolutionary and adaptive factors reflected in these changes in growth patterns. Looking at a specific sample experiencing the more recent surge in increased weight allows for the examination of what current factors are impacting this trend.

Greece provides an excellent example of this phenomenon. The Greek diet was heralded for years as the optimal Mediterranean diet. Increasing rates of childhood obesity in Greece illustrate the need to look closer at factors involved in this trend. For this study, anthropometric measures of 1601 children 6-12 years of age from rural and urban settings were assessed. Survey data, observations, and interviews were used to give a cultural context to this anthropometric data.

Children from this study were taller and heavier than the historical sample of Greek children. Assessing the prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in this sample using different reference data sets highlights the trends in increased height and weight and subsequent rates of overweight and obesity. Rates of overweight and obesity were higher than expected. There were significant differences in rates of overweight and obesity by location, though this was primarily due to the high rates of overweight and obesity in the small rural sample of Fourni. There was also a significant difference in height by location, primarily due to the lower stature seen in individuals from Central Thessaloniki. Factors associated with overweight and obesity in similar populations (such as socio-economic status and physical activity patterns) were less clearly associated with rates of overweight and obesity in this population.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jamison, Paul L., Wiley, Andrea S.
Commitee: Kalentzidou, Olga, Phillips, Sarah D., Sherwood-Laughlin, Catherine M.
School: Indiana University
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Forensic anthropology, Social research
Keywords: Anthropology, Greece, Growth and development, Overweight and obesity, Secular trends
Publication Number: 3527777
ISBN: 978-1-267-62228-0
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