Prevalence of overweight and obesity among preadolescent schoolchildren in Galicia, Spain


Fernando L. Vázquez, PhD, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Campus Universitario Sur, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain


Background  Childhood obesity is rising rapidly in many countries. Preadolescents appear to be at particularly high risk. This study estimated the prevalence of overweight and obesity in preadolescent schoolchildren in Galicia, Spain.

Methods  The heights and weights of a random sample of 2305 Galician schoolchildren aged 10–12 years were measured using calibrated standardized scales and measures. Overweight and obesity were identified using the criteria of the International Obesity Task Force.

Results  The prevalences of obesity and overweight were respectively 9.2% and 31.0% among boys, 8.6% and 28.8% among girls and 8.9% and 29.9% overall. Taking boys and girls together, the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity fell significantly with increasing age. Overweight was more prevalent in rural than urban areas (30.7% vs. 28.4%), as also was obesity (9.8% vs. 7.2%).

Conclusions  Our study evidences the emergence of the obesity epidemic among preadolescents in Galicia, especially in rural areas. Both overweight and obesity in this age group are more prevalent in Galicia than in other areas of Spain or most other Western nations.