Prevalence of obesity among 10–11-year-old Maltese children using four established standards


Address for correspondence: Mr A Decelis, Institute for PE and Sport, Rm.202, University of Malta, Msida, MSD 2080, Malta; Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, 8, Priory Road, Bristol, UK. E-mail:;


What is already known about this subject

  • Obesity rates in children are particularly high in European countries.
  • Based on self-report data in the Health Behaviour in School-age Children study, obesity in 11-year-old Maltese children is second only to children in the United States.

What this study adds

  • This is the first study on obesity in 10–11-year-old Maltese children using objective measures with a nationally representative sample that confirms very high levels of overweight and obesity.
  • Prevalence appears to be high with no strong social or geographical patterning.


The objective of this study was to establish, through measured height and weight, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in a representative sample of Maltese children aged 10–11 years.


Height and weight were measured in a sample, stratified by sex, region and type of school, of 874 year 6 children and their body mass index classified as normal weight, overweight, and obese using International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), World Health Organization (WHO), US Centre for Disease Control and UK Department of Health standards.


IOTF standards indicated 20.4% overweight and 14.2% obese, while WHO standards indicated 23.1% overweight and 20.9% obese. All four standards reported significant sex differences, classifying more boys in the overweight and obesity categories.


The prevalence of overweight and obesity among 10–11-year-old Maltese children are higher than previously estimated through self-reported height and weight and all other countries in the world except Greece. These high rates confirm the urgent need to identify causes and tackle childhood obesity in Malta.