Food habits, physical activities and sedentary lifestyles of eutrophic and obese school children: a case-control study

BMC Public Health. 2015 Feb 11;15:124. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1491-1.


Background: Civilization has produced lifestyle changes; currently, people ingest more calories than are expended, resulting in obesity. This study assessed the association between dietary habits, physical activities, and sedentary behaviors and the risk of obesity in schoolchildren in Mexico City.

Methods: Of 1,441 children (6-12 years old) screened in elementary schools, 202 obese (BMI ≥95(th) pc) and 200 normal-weight children (BMI 25(th)- 75(th) pc), as defined by the 2000 CDC criteria, were included in a case-control study. The children's eating, physical activity and sedentary lifestyle habits were recorded using validated questionnaires. The quantity and quality of the foods were obtained, and the energy that was expended was transformed into METs. Sedentary behavior was assessed in hours. Logistic regression models were used to determine the risks of certain habits and their association with obesity.

Results: Obese children ingested around of 270 Kcal less than eutrophic children. However, compared with the eutrophic children, obese children had significantly worse lifestyle habits; the children with healthy dietary habits (eating breakfast at home, bringing a school lunch, and not bringing money to purchase food) had a lower risk of obesity (OR 0.59, CI 0.46; 0.75). The quality of the eaten food was associated with a risk of obesity. Consuming fruit demonstrated an inverse association with risk of obesity (p Trend = 0.01); consumption of sweetened beverages (p Trend < 0.04) and refined carbohydrates with added fat (p Trend = 0.002) were associated with an increased risk of obesity. Children who were more physically active at school had an OR of 0.37 (CI 0.16; 0.89), those who had 3-4 televisions at home had an OR of 2.13 (CI 1.20; 3.78), and the risk of developing obesity was independent of caloric intake.

Conclusions: Poorer eating habits as well as less physical activity were associated with the risk of obesity. An obesogenic environment could change if teachers and parents worked together to form healthy food intake and physical activity habits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Schools
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Television