Objective: To determine secular trends in overweight/obesity among 7- to 15-year-olds for the periods 1985, 1997, and 2004.
Research Method and Procedures: Data from representative surveys conducted in New South Wales, Australia, in 1985, 1997, and 2004 were analyzed. Height and weight were measured, and BMI categories were created using International Obesity Task Force definitions. Students were grouped as Grades 2 + 4 + 6 and 8 + 10.
Results: The prevalences of overweight/obesity for 1985, 1997, and 2004 were 10.9%, 20.6%, and 25.7% among the younger boys and 10.6%, 19.5%, and 26.1% among the older boys. The average annual rate of increase for 1985 to 1997 was 0.81% and for 1997 to 2004 was 0.73% among the younger boys and was 0.74% and 0.94% for the two periods among the older boys. The prevalences of overweight/obesity in 1985, 1997, and 2004 were 14.0%, 22.0%, and 24.8% among the younger girls and 8.3%, 17.9%, and 19.8% among the older girls, respectively. The average annual rates of increase for the two periods were 0.8% and 0.4% among the younger girls and 0.80% and 0.27% among the older girls. Change in the prevalence of overweight/obesity and socioeconomic status were not associated.
Discussion: Over the period 1985 to 1997, the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased significantly among the younger and older boys and the younger girls. The prevalence of overweight, but not obesity, increased among the older girls over this period. Over the period 1997 to 2004, the prevalence of overweight/obesity combined increased significantly among boys of both age groups but not among girls.