Differences in physical activity, aerobic fitness, self-perception, and dietary intake were examined in a sample of six- to ten-year-olds at risk of overweight, and in normal weight boys and girls. Participants (n=20 at risk of overweight [BMI > or =85th percentile]; n=115 normal weight [BMI <85th percentile]; n=68 boys; n=67 girls) had anthropometric, physical activity, aerobic fitness, self-perception, and dietary intake measurements at zero, three, six, and 12 months. Over the 12-month period, normal weight children were more physically active (F=4.1, p<0.05) and aerobically fit (F=14.3, p<0.001), and possessed higher self-perceptions of social acceptance (F=7.3, p<0.01) than their at risk of overweight peers. Fitness differences between the sexes were not apparent at baseline, but emerged over the long term (F=7.9, p<0.01). Overall, boys consumed more total energy, fat, carbohydrate, and protein than did girls, while the entire sample consumed diets low in vegetables and fruits and meat and alternatives, and high in "other" foods. These observations highlight key disparities in lifestyle-related behaviours and perceptions between groups of children according to overweight status and sex. The findings underscore the importance of longitudinal studies in youth because cross-sectional studies may reflect transient differences.