Prevalence and sociodemographic determinants of overweight in young French adolescents

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Abstract

Background

The prevalence of overweight in adults and in children is increasing in most industrialised countries. Our purpose is to estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity in a population of 12-year-old French adolescents and to analyse its association with different sociodemographic factors.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2001 on a representative sample of sixth-grade adolescents (mean age 12.1 ± 0.6 years) living in the Department of the Bas-Rhin (Eastern part of France). Height and weight were measured in 4326 adolescents. Overweight and obesity were defined as recommended by the International Obesity Task Force. Sociodemographic data were obtained for 3436 adolescents.

Results

The prevalence of overweight was 22.7% (17.5% of moderate overweight and 5.2% of obesity) and it was not different by gender or by size of the commune of residence. Overweight was more frequent in low economic zones (p < 10−4 in girls, p < 10−2 in boys) and in public schools than in private schools (p < 10−3 in girls). The prevalence of overweight was inversely associated with family income tax (p < 10−3 in girls, p = 0.012 in boys), mother's (p = 10−4 in girls, p = 10−3 in boys) and father's (p = 0.001 in girls, p = 0.004 in boys) educational level. Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated an independent association of being overweight with low family income tax (p = 0.2195) and poor mother's educational level (p = 0.0193).

Conclusions

This study indicates that, as in other industrialised countries, much overweight and obesity are present in 12-year-old French adolescents. It suggests the existence of an influence of socio-economic factors with a predominant effect of the mother's educational level rather than the financial resources. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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