Prevalence and trends in overweight and obesity in three cross sectional studies of British children, 1974-94BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7277.24 (Published 06 January 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:24
- Susan Chinn, reader in medical statistics (, )
- Roberto J Rona, professor
- Correspondence to: S Chinn
- Accepted 29 September 2000
Objectives: To report trends in overweight and obesity, defined by new internationally agreed cut-off points, in children in the United Kingdom.
Design: Three independent cross sectional surveys.
Setting: Primary schools in England and Scotland.
Participants: 10 414 boys and 9737 girls in England and 5385 boys and 5219 girls in Scotland aged 4 to 11 years.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence and change in prevalence of overweight and obesity, as defined by the international obesity task force, in 1974, 1984, and 1994, for each sex and country.
Results: Little change was found in the prevalence of overweight or obesity from 1974 to 1984. From 1984 to 1994 overweight increased from 5.4% to 9.0% in English boys (increase 3.6%, 95% confidence interval 2.3% to 5.0%) and from 6.4% to 10.0% in Scottish boys (3.6%, 1.9% to 5.4%). Values for girls were 9.3% to 13.5% (4.1%, 2.4% to 5.9%) and 10.4% to 15.8% (5.4%, 3.2% to 7.6%), respectively. The prevalence of obesity increased correspondingly, reaching 1.7% (English boys), 2.1% (Scottish boys), 2.6% (English girls), and 3.2% (Scottish girls).
Conclusion: These results form a base from which trends can be monitored. The rising trends are likely to be reflected in increases in adult obesity and associated morbidity.
Funding The national study of health and growth was funded by the Department of Health.
Competing interests None declared.