Trends and prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia between 1985 and 2008

Sansom Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia.
International journal of obesity (2005) (Impact Factor: 5). 10/2009; 34(1):57-66. DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2009.211
Source: PubMed


Popular media, health experts and researchers talk about a paediatric 'obesity epidemic' with exponentially increasing rates of obesity and overweight. However, some recent reports suggest that prevalence may have plateaued. This study examined trends in the prevalence of Australian childhood overweight and obesity since 1985. Specifically, it aimed to determine whether there have been (a) overall increases in average body mass index (BMI), (b) differential patterns of change within age groups and (c) increases in BMI within each weight-status category.
Forty-one Australian studies of childhood weight status conducted between 1985 and 2008 were reviewed. The studies included data on 264 905 Australians aged 2-18 years, with raw data being available on 70 758 children (27%). Children were classified as overweight or obese based on BMI using the criteria of Cole et al. (BMJ, 2000). The prevalence estimates were adjusted for age and sex, and plotted against measurement year using Lowess plots and two-linear-segment models. Where raw data were available, BMI z-scores (UK 1990 standard) were plotted against measurement year for all children and children in various age groups. Lowess plots and two-linear-segment models were used to assess secular trends in BMI z-scores pre- and post-1996 within age, gender and weight-status categories.
There has been a plateau, or only slight increase, in the percentage of boys and girls classified as overweight or obese, with almost no change over the last 10 years. In boys and girls, prevalence rates have settled around 21-25% for overweight and obesity together, and 5-6% for obesity alone. Similar trends were found for BMI z-scores. These patterns were fairly consistent across the age span. Within each weight-status category, average BMI has not increased.
Although levels of Australian paediatric overweight remain high, the prevalence of overweight and obesity seems to have flattened and has not followed the anticipated exponential trajectory.

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Available from: Tim Olds, Feb 08, 2014
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    • "Diabetes mellitus is a growing problem worldwide due to the rapidly increasing prevalence of both adult and childhood obesity. The burden of disease of DM is significant, with long-term complications of the disease including retinopathy, nephropathy and peripheral neuropathy, and an increased risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease [2] [3]. Diabetes may also arise as a complication of cystic fibrosis (CF) due to decreased insulin secretion and the presence of insulin resistance [4], with clinical consequences including decreased pulmonary function and a higher mortality than those with CF but without diabetes [5] [6] [7]. "
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    • "Currently, little is known about the exact causes of the observed trends in body weight. Childhood obesity continues to increase in developing countries while it has apparently plateaued or slightly growth in developed countries [27]–[29]. China is a developing country with rapid growth in economy. "
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