Trends in overweight and obesity in Swedish schoolchildren 1999–2005: has the epidemic reached a plateau?


L Lissner, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Public Health Epidemiology Unit, Box 454, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, SE 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden. E-mail:


The aim of this review is to synthesize published evidence on the most recent trends in overweight and obesity among Swedish children. Specifically, trends are reported among fourth graders (10–11 years) from six different municipalities between 1999 and 2005. Weights and heights in representative samples of children within each area were measured by school nurses as part of routine school health examinations. Standardized definitions of overweight, obesity and thinness were calculated by methods described by Cole et al. in 2000 and 2007. In Stockholm, obesity prevalence during academic years starting 1999 and 2003 decreased non-significantly from 4.4% to 2.8% in girls, and increased non-significantly from 3.2% to 3.8% among boys. In Gothenburg, comparing academic years starting 2000 and 2004, prevalence of overweight in girls decreased from 19.6% to 15.9% (P < 0.01) while thinness increased from 9.5% to 11.9% (P < 0.05); no significant changes were observed in boys. Finally, the Swedish National Institute of Public Health released figures from Karlstad, Umeå, Västerås and Ystad in 2003–2005 during which time no trends in prevalence could be clearly shown. The stabilized rates are probably a result of regional and local actions that have taken place in many sectors of society, rather than one specific measure or national political action.