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Arch Hellen Med, 33(3), May-June 2016, 331-341


The prevalence and determinants of childhood obesity

D. Fragkou, P. Galanis
Department of Nursing, Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation,
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Childhood obesity is a major public health problem, especially in developed countries, since it exerts a negative effect on the physical and mental health of the children, and in their adult life it increases their morbidity and causes premature death. During the last 50 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased dramatically. Documented determinants of childhood obesity are demographic characteristics, life style and eating habits, family attitudes and genetic characteristics. Increased body mass index (BMI) of parents, lower educational level of parents, lower socio-economic level and lower age of mothers are all associated with an increase in childhood obesity. Among the life style characteristics, more time spent television watching and using personal computer and video games consoles are also associated with childhood obesity. Conversely, eating breakfast daily, an increase in the daily number of meals and meals taken with the family and a decreased in the number of beverages with sugar are associated with decreased childhood obesity. Increased physical activity and increased sleeping time are associated with decreased obesity. Negative comments of family members about style and weight are associated with an increase in eating disorders, especially in girls. The investigation on the determinants of childhood obesity is essential for the design and application of appropriate health policies, so that children and their families realize the importance of the issue and adopt more healthy behavior.

Key words: Body mass index, Childhood obesity, Determinants, Nutrition, Physical activity, Prevalence.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine