Overweight in adolescents: differences per type of education. Does one size fit all?

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2008 Mar-Apr;40(2):65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2007.06.010.


Objective: To assess the lifestyle and prevalence of overweight among 16- to 18-year-old adolescents attending 4 different types of secondary education (SE).

Design: Cross-sectional school-based survey.

Participants: A community sample of 994 adolescents (body mass index [BMI]: 15-43 kg/m2).

Variables measured: Overweight and obesity were assessed by BMI. Health-related quality of life (HRQL) was assessed using the 36-item short-form (SF-36) questionnaire. The Dutch eating behavior questionnaire was administered. Lifestyle was assessed using the Baecke questionnaire and self-reported activities.

Analysis: Prevalence of overweight, HRQL and lifestyle were assessed per type of education. Gender differences and differences between BMI-categories were analyzed.

Results: Students in Vocational SE were significantly more likely to be overweight (18%) or obese (7.5%) compared to students in other types of SE (chi square-27.0, P < .001). HRQL was significantly lower among obese girls compared to overweight (P = .009) or normal weight girls (P < .01). Obese and overweight adolescents scored higher in restrained eating than their normal weight peers (P < .001) but lower in externally induced eating (P = .001).

Conclusions and implications: Lifestyle and prevalence of overweight and obesity seems to differ between different types of education. This could be of importance when making health policy decisions. Health programs should focus on types of education with the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity and should be tailor-made to the specific needs of the targeted type of education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires