Prevalence and factors associated with overweight and obesity in French primary-school children

Public Health Nutr. 2013 Feb;16(2):193-201. doi: 10.1017/S136898001200359X. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of, and identify associated factors with, overweight and obesity in two samples of French children.

Design: We conducted two cross-sectional studies among two samples of children. Weight status, eating behaviour, sedentary activity, physical activity and parents' socio-economic status (SES) were collected using questionnaires filled by doctors during school health check-ups. Overweight and obesity were defined according to the age- and sex-specific BMI cut-off points of the International Obesity Taskforce. Multivariate analysis (logistic regression) was used to identify independent factors associated with overweight including obesity and obesity alone.

Setting: Aquitaine region (south-west France).

Subjects: Analyses were conducted among children aged 5-7 years (n 4048) and 7-11 years (n 3619).

Results: Overweight prevalence was 9·5 % including 2·2 % of obesity in 5-7-year-old children and 15·6 % including 2·9 % of obesity in 7-11-year-old children. In both samples, overweight and obesity prevalence were higher in children whose parents had low or medium SES (P < 0·05). Factors associated significantly (P < 0·05) and independently with higher overweight or obesity prevalence were female gender, low or medium parental SES, never or sometimes having breakfast, never eating at the school canteen, never having a morning snack, never or sometimes having a light afternoon meal and having high sedentary activity.

Conclusions: Our data confirm that low SES, absence of breakfast and high sedentary activity are associated with a higher risk of being overweight or obese, but also highlight original potential protective factors such as eating at the canteen and high meal frequency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires