Objective: Determine the prevalence of marked overweight and obesity among children in the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH), identify high risk groups, and compare findings to other recent studies.
Design: Cohort study.
Subjects/setting: Five thousand one hundred-six school children who were participants in CATCH at baseline (age approximately 9 years) during 1991 and 4,019 of those children who had follow-up data from 1994 (age approximately 1 years) available.
Methods: Body mass index (BMI), triceps and subscapular skinfolds, subscapular to triceps skinfold (S/T) ratio, and an estimate of body fat distribution from skinfolds was calculated. Findings were compared to population-based reference data from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1971 to 1973 (NHANES I), to data from the Bogalusa Heart Study, and to data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988 to 1994 (NHANES III).
Results: Children in CATCH were markedly heavier and fatter than the NHANES I population and more comparable to the NHANES III population, especially those in the upper percentiles. The prevalence of obesity based on BMI and triceps skinfolds >95th percentile among CATCH children was higher in boys than in girls at both baseline (boys 9.1%, girls 8.6%) and follow-up (boys 11.7%, girls 7.2%). It was higher among African-Americans and Hispanics than whites for both sexes. S/T ratios did not differ appreciably from those observed in the NHANES I reference population, suggesting that body fat distribution was more stable over time than BMI and skinfolds.
Applications: Our findings support other recent reports that American children, especially African-American and Hispanic children, are becoming heavier and fatter. Preventive measures are warranted, especially for high-risk youth.