Refined Analysis of the Critical Age Ranges of Childhood Overweight: Implications for Primary Prevention

Authors

  • Sascha W. Hoffmann,

    1. Department of Sports Medicine, Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Social Science, Media and Sport, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany
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  • Rolf Ulrich,

    1. Department of Psychology, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
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  • Perikles Simon

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Sports Medicine, Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Social Science, Media and Sport, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany
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(simonpe@uni-mainz.de)

Abstract

Prevention-interventions would certainly benefit from a precise knowledge of the age range when the most pronounced increases in prevalence of overweight and obesity occur in the general population. Data of 15,662 subjects aged 2–18 years were obtained from a national representative health survey (German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS)) conducted in Germany. Weight, height, and BMI z-scores were calculated relative to the UK 1990 reference, and prevalence of overweight and obesity was defined according to the IOTF (International Obesity Task Force) age- and sex-specific cut-offs. Univariate ANOVAs for overweight, obesity, weight, height, and BMI z-scores as dependent variables were employed to assess significant differences for these measures across various age levels. Significant analysis was followed by post-hoc comparisons using Bonferroni adjustments. The main effect of age was estimated using a multinomial logistic regression model, and by defining the first derivative of a polynomial spline function. Different eclectic slopes over the entire age range from 2 to 18 years have been observed. Prevalence of overweight substantially increases between the 5th and the 8th year (12.5–21.4% P ≤ 0.001). Maximum increase of the polynomial fit was detected at 7.2 years. Our findings suggest a relatively narrow age range at the first school year when overweight in German children especially increases. We therefore propose that psychosocial correlates may be related to the general life-time event around the age of entering school.

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