Objective: To determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in British young people (4-18 years) in 1997.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of young people.
Setting: Great Britain.
Subjects: Nationally representative sample of 1836 young people (age 4-18 years).
Results: The prevalence of obesity based on body mass index (weight/height(2)) and the International Obesity Task Force cut-offs was 4.0%, with a further 15.4% identified as overweight. Asians were almost four times as likely to be obese as white subjects (13.6 vs. 3.5%, P<0.001). Among white subjects there was no significant difference in the prevalence of obesity between girls and boys, or with age. The risk of obesity was significantly higher in subjects from social classes IV and V than from social classes I-III (6.5 vs. 2.7%, P=0.003). Subjects living in Scotland and Wales were significantly more likely to be obese than those in England (7.6 and 6.5 vs. 2.9%, respectively, P<0.01). Multiple logistic regression showed that, among white subjects, those in social classes IV and V living in Wales and Scotland were three times more likely to be obese than the other children in the survey (odds ratio 3.3, 95% confidence interval 1.1-9.8).
Conclusion: These data provide information on the national prevalence of overweight and obesity in Great Britain and baseline data from which to monitor future trends. This analysis provides important demographic information on those most at risk of obesity, which may be used to inform public health strategies to prevent obesity in young people.