Efforts to tackle obesity should begin in early childhood

Prevalence of overweight and obesity in British children: cohort study

Many British children are both overweight and obese before they start school, claim researchers from Glasgow and Bristol in this weeks BMJ. These findings, based on a study of children (at the ages of 24, 49 and 61 months of age) born in the Bristol area between 1991-2, are in line with the evidence that there is a British epidemic of adult obesity say the authors. They call for efforts to prevent obesity to begin in early childhood.

Dr John Reilly from the University of Glasgow led the team, which found that by the age of two years 15.8 per cent of the children studied were overweight; by the age of four this figure had increased to over one in five (20.3 per cent) but a year later, the percentage of overweight children had fallen slightly to 18.7 per cent. In terms of obesity, Reilly et al found a similar pattern with children aged four years showing the highest levels (77 of the 1013 children in this group were described as obese).

The authors say that their study group was broadly representative of children in the UK. They conclude that as their definition of obesity was conservative, the true prevalence of childhood obesity in the UK is likely to be higher than indicated in their study.


Contact: Jill Shepherd
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Page: 1

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