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Arch Hellen Med, 27(6), November-December 2010, 937-943


Indices of obesity and nutrition and associated factors in primary school pupils in an urban area of Attiki

1Second Department of Internal Medicine and Diabetes Outpatient Clinic, "Asclepeion Voulas" General Hospital, Athens,
2General Hospital of Korinthos, Korinthos, Greece

OBJECTIVE The childhood obesity rate has increased dramatically in both developed and developing countries. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and correlates of overweight and obesity in children.

METHOD The study population consisted of 2,374 pupils (1,206 boys and 1,168 girls) of primary schools in an urban area of Attiki. A standardized anonymous questionnaire, approved by the Greek Ministry of Education, was used.

RESULTS In this population-based study, the rate of overweight children was 23.9%, and of obese children 7.3%, and the rate of central obesity was 35.5%. The boys were obese in a higher percentage than the girls (9.2% vs 5.3%, p<0.05), but there were no differences between the genders for central obesity (36.6% vs 34.3%, p=0.48). The obesity rates gradually became lower as the children grew older. This decrease appeared to be positively related to an increase in physical activity. The nutritional habits which were identified to have a positive association with obesity were the following: skipping breakfast; not consuming fruits and vegetables; consuming bread and soft drinks. The frequency of eating at fast-food restaurants was positively associated with central obesity. Healthy nutrition at school was related to lower rates of generalised and central obesity, while the hours spent watching TV were positively associated with all types of obesity.

CONCLUSIONS The rate of children found overweight or obese is high and the rate of obesity was higher in boys in all age groups. Overall, a significant positive association was found between the BMI of children and both frequent consumption of convenience food and long hours spent watching TV.

Key words: Central obesity, Nutrition, Physical activity.

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