Fast food consumption and its associations with obesity and hypertension among children: results from the baseline data of the Childhood Obesity Study in China Mega-cities

BMC Public Health. 2017 Dec 6;17(1):933. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4952-x.


Background: China has seen rapid increase in obesity and hypertension prevalence and fast food consumption over the past decade. We examined status and risk factors for Western- and Chinese fast food consumption and their associations with health outcomes in Chinese children, and examined how maternal factors were associated with child health outcomes.

Methods: Data of 1626 students aged 7-16 (11.6 ± 2.0) years and their parents in four mega-cities across China (Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, and Xi'an) were collected in the 2015 baseline survey of the Childhood Obesity Study in China Mega-cities. Weight, height, waist circumference, and blood pressure were measured. Food intake was assessed using questionnaire. Mixed models were used to examine the associations.

Results: Among the children, 11.1% were obese, 19.7% were centrally obese, and 9.0% had hypertension. Obesity prevalence was much higher in boys than in girls (15.2% vs. 6.9% and 27.4% vs. 11.7%, respectively, both P < 0.001). About half (51.9% and 43.6%) of children consumed Western and Chinese fast food, respectively, over the past 3 months. Compared to those with college or above maternal education level, those with elementary school or below maternal education level were 49% more likely to consume Western fast food (odds ratio [OR] and 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.49 [1.10-2.03]). Chinese fast food consumption rate increased by 12% with each year of increase in child's age (OR and 95% CI: 1.12 [1.02-1.23]). No significant associations between fast food consumption and health outcomes were detected. Adjusting for Western fast food consumption, children with lower maternal education were 71% and 43% more likely to have obesity and central obesity (ORs and 95% CIs: 1.71 [1.12-2.61] and 1.43 [1.00-2.03], respectively), and maternal body mass index was positively associated with child obesity, central obesity, and hypertension (ORs and 95% CIs: 1.11 [1.06-1.17], 1.12 [1.07-1.17], and 1.09 [1.03-1.15], respectively). Results were similar when Chinese fast food consumption was adjusted for.

Conclusions: The prevalence of fast food consumption, obesity and hypertension is high among children in major cities in China. Maternal factors affect child outcomes.

Keywords: Adolescent; Child; China; Fast food consumption; Hypertension; Obesity; Overweight.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Beijing / epidemiology
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cities
  • Fast Foods / adverse effects*
  • Fast Foods / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Students / statistics & numerical data