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Recent anthropometric trends among Swedish school children: evidence for decreasing prevalence of overweight in girls

Authors


Correspondence
Agneta Sjöberg, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Primary Health Care, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Box 454, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden. Tel.: +46 31 786 68 50 | Fax: +46 31 778 17 04 | Email: agneta.sjoberg@allmed.gu.se

Abstract

Aim: To assess the recent prevalence of overweight and obesity in 10 year old children in Göteborg, Sweden.

Methods: Cross-sectional data on weight and height from school health examinations, including fourth grade children, born in 1974 (n = 4126), 1990 (n = 4683) and 1994 (n = 4193) and measured in academic years 1984/1985, 2000/2001 and 2004/2005, were used. Weight classification was based on age- and sex-specific body mass index cutoff values. The two latest cohorts were classified according to socio-economic areas.

Results: Between 2000/2001 and 2004/2005, the prevalence of overweight plus obesity in girls decreased from 19.6% to 15.9% (p < 0.01). Prevalence of obesity was 3.0% and 2.5% (nonsignificant), respectively. In boys, all differences between the corresponding cohorts were nonsignificant: 17.1% versus 17.6% were overweight (including obese) and 2.9% versus 2.8% were obese. In 1984/1985, prevalence of overweight plus obesity was only 8.6% among girls and 7.2% among boys, while 0.8% and 0.7% were classified as obese, respectively. The socio-economic gradient in overweight prevalence remained, particularly in girls.

Conclusions: This study suggests that the obesity epidemic in 10–11 year olds may be easing off in urban Sweden, and possibly reversing among girls. Even if future monitoring confirms these findings, much health promoting work still remains since the power of the ‘obesogenic environment’ will probably continue to be strong.

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