Aim: To determine the regional prevalence, secular and family-related trends of obesity and overweight among 10-y-old children.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of 10-y-old children, born in 1990, was performed during September 2000 to June 2001 at school health centres in three communities in the western part of Sweden. Evaluation was performed in 6311 children, or 81% of the target population. Data from a cohort of children, born in 1974, who form the national growth charts, were available for comparison.
Results: The mean body mass index was 17.9 kg/m2 in 10-y-old children born in 1990 and 17.0 kg/m2 for 10-y-olds born in 1974 (p < 0.0001). Of the 10-y-old children in 2000-2001, born in 1990, 18% were overweight and 2.9 % obese, which corresponds to a twofold increase in presence of overweight and a fourfold increase in presence of obesity among 10-y-old children from 1984 to 2000. There was a significant correlation between parental and child body mass index. The prevalence of obesity and being overweight appeared to be higher in children whose parents did not participate in the study.
Conclusion: During a 16-y period, from 1984 to 2000, a twofold increase in being overweight and a fourfold increase in obesity were seen among 10-y-old children in the western part of Sweden. Parental ponderosity or reluctance to participate in the study was related to a higher prevalence of being overweight or obese in the children. There is a need for the healthcare system to recognize the threats to the health of the population of this new "epidemic" and initiate preventive measures and treatment programmes.