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Keywords:

  • secular trends;
  • height;
  • weight;
  • BMI;
  • overweight

Abstract

Objective: The prevalence of childhood obesity has been rising during the past decades in many parts of the world, including Greece. The dispersion of these trends across age, however, is less clear. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between age and 20-year changes in anthropometric characteristics of Greek boys.

Research Methods and Procedures: A total of 204 and 106 boys 9 years old, 163 and 274 boys 12 years old, and 161 and 240 boys 15 years old were randomly recruited in 1982 and 2002, respectively, throughout the county of Iraklio, Crete, Greece. Height, weight, and BMI were measured.

Results: Contemporary 9 and 12 year olds were taller than their peers in 1982 (+2.9% and +1.2%, respectively; p < 0.005), but this was not the case for 15 year olds (−0.8%; p = 0.083). Body weight and BMI were higher now than in the 1980s, and this held true for all age groups (p < 0.001). Increases in weight also showed a decline with advancing age (+17.4%, +13.9%, and +4.0% for 9, 12, and 15 year olds, respectively), whereas BMI changes were similar for those 9 and 12 years of age (∼10.5%), but were almost 2-fold higher than in 15 year olds (+5.5%).

Discussion: Contemporary boys are taller, heavier, and have higher BMI values than their peers in 1982, but the magnitude of these increases gradually declines with advancing age. Rates of increase in BMI, however, seem to have greatly accelerated compared with previous decades.