Protein Intake as a Risk Factor of Overweight/Obesity in 8- to 12-Year-Old Children

Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Dec;94(52):e2408. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000002408.


Several studies investigating the relationship between body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and/or body fat (BF) with macronutrient composition of the diet have suggested that dietary composition may play an important role to overweight/obesity in childhood, but its relation remains inconclusive. The aim was to assess the association between energy intake (EI) and macronutrient diet composition with overweight/obesity among children.Nonrandomized cohort study including 396 Italian children and preadolescents (9-13 years old), 200 overweight/obese and 196 normal-weight. The children's weight, height, WC, and food intake were measured.Reported EI was higher in overweight/obese than in nonoverweight children; however, after body weight was considered, the overweight/obese children had less EI than their leaner counterparts. Percentages of EI from proteins, SFA, MUFA and PUFA (in males), and dietary fiber (g/1000 kcal) were higher in the overweight/obese children than in the leaner ones. EI from carbohydrates and fats was lower in overweight/obese males and females, respectively. Positive correlations between BMI and waist-to-height ratio with EI from proteins were found in males (r = 0.296, P < 0.01 and r = 0.326, P < 0.01; respectively) and females (r = 0.374, P < 0.01 and r = 0.405, P < 0.01; respectively), but negative correlations with fats were found in females (r = -0.240, P < 0.01 and r = -0.188, P < 0.05; respectively). Using binary logistic regression, the highest EI from proteins were associated with higher odds ratio for overweight/obesity, while the lowest EI from carbohydrates was associated with higher odds ratio for overweight/obesity in males.Reported EI of overweight/obese children was higher than nonoverweight peers. Overweight/obese children had higher intakes of proteins compared with nonoverweight ones. Overweight/obese males and females showed lower EI from carbohydrates and fats, respectively, than their leaner counterparts.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins