Overweight and obesity in Norwegian children: secular trends in weight-for-height and skinfolds

Acta Paediatr. 2007 Sep;96(9):1333-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00421.x.


Aim: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in paediatric populations has been rapidly increasing in many countries over the past decades. The aims of the present study were to provide new data on weight-for-height and skinfolds, and to compare these to growth references for children between 3 and 17 years, collected in the same city between 1971 and 1974.

Material: The present study is based on cross-sectional data of 4115 children (2086 boys and 2029 girls) aged 4-15 years measured in 2003-6.

Results: Overall, 18.0% of the boys and 20.1% of the girls were above the 90th weight-for-height percentile of the 1971-1974 references, 8.0% and 7.2% were above the 97.5th percentile, indicating an upward shift in weight-for-height. An even more prominent increase was observed for skinfold thicknesses; for triceps skinfolds about 30% of the boys and 28% of the girls were above the 90th percentile of the 1971-1974 references, and corresponding values for subscapular skinfolds were 26.5% and 25.9%. Using international cut-off values for body mass index, the overall prevalence of overweight and obesity was 12.5% and 2.1% in boys, and 14.8% and 2.9% in girls.

Conclusions: Our study has demonstrated a significant increase in weight-for-height in Norwegian children over the last 30 years, and that these changes are caused by an increase in fat tissue, as shown by skinfold measurements. The current prevalence of overweight and obesity is comparable to recent estimates from most Western and Northern European countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight*
  • Prevalence
  • Skinfold Thickness*