Emergence and persistence of overweight and obesity in 7-to 11-year-old children

Naomi Bartle, C. Hill, L. Webber, C.H.M. van Jaarsveld, J. Wardle

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    6 Citations (Scopus)
    37 Downloads (Pure)


    Aim: After dramatic rises in paediatric obesity, the critical period for obesity onset may now be pre-adolescence. Methods: We monitored adiposity over 4 years in 400 children aged 7-9 years recruited from schools in London. Weight, height, waist circumference (WC) and fat mass were measured annually. Weight status was defined using International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) criteria, and standardised scores and percentiles used British 1990 reference data. Results: BMI, WC and fat mass index all tracked strongly over time (average correlation for BMI = 0.95). Emergence of obesity was relatively uncommon: only 2% of the total sample increased from overweight to obese over the 4-year period, and this was nearly matched by the 1.3% that reduced from obese to overweight. However, more children (6%) moved from healthy weight to overweight than the reverse direction (2%). There were greater absolute gains in adiposity in children with higher baseline weight status, but this was disguised in analyses using standardised scores. Obesity was not an emergent trait in middle childhood, but rates were already high and, in absolute terms, adiposity increased more in overweight and obese than healthy weight children. Conclusion: These results highlight the need for active management of obesity in middle childhood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)415-423
    JournalObesity Facts
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (www.karger.com/OA-license), applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.


    • adiposity
    • child development
    • growth
    • longitudinal
    • obesity


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