Is there a lag globally in overweight trends for children compared with adults?

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Oct;14(10):1846-53. doi: 10.1038/oby.2006.213.


Objective: To determine relative trends in prevalence for overweight for adults compared with children across high-income countries (Australia, United Kingdom, and United States), middle-income countries (Brazil and Russia), and low-income countries (China and Indonesia).

Research methods and procedures: Extant nationally representative survey data from 1971 to the present are used. Prevalence of overweight for adults > or =18.0 years of age and children 6.0 to 17.9 years of age were used. Absolute and relative annual rates of change in prevalence of overweight in children and adults were the key outcomes.

Results: Absolute rates of increase in overweight were higher among adults than among children in all studied countries except Australia. However, relative rates of increase in overweight indicate faster increases in overweight among children in Brazil, China, and the three high-income countries. As a result, the relative excess of overweight among adults, seen initially in all countries, increased in Indonesia and Russia, but it decreased in Australia, Brazil, China, United Kingdom, and United States. In Brazil, time trends indicate an acceleration in the annual rate of change in overweight for children and a deceleration for adults, whereas in the United States, the increase in overweight shows acceleration for both children and adults.

Discussion: In absolute terms, overweight increased faster among children than adults only in Australia; however, the relative gap between children and adults is closing in four additional countries, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Promotion / trends
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Overweight / physiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology