Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Children: Variation in Different Ethnicities, Age, and Sex in North Macedonia

Pril (Makedon Akad Nauk Umet Odd Med Nauki). 2022 Jul 13;43(2):23-31. doi: 10.2478/prilozi-2022-0015.


Childhood obesity is assuredly one of the most important health challenges of the 21st century, particularly regarding long-term metabolic complications. In the last four decades, there has been a tenfold increase in childhood and adolescence obesity. This cross-sectional study aimed to show the prevalence of overweight and obesity compared by age, sex, and ethnicity in n=1034 healthy male and female children, aged 6-13 years in North Macedonia. Out of the total 1034 children included in the study, 589 (57.0%) were observed with normal weight, 202 (19.5%) children were obese, 140 (13.5%) children were overweight and, 103 (10.0%) children underweight. The study presents an insight that 33% of primary school children are at >85th percentile overweight; or at ≥95th percentile with increased weight due to obesity. The data show that boys have a higher prevalence of obesity and overweight with 37.1%, compared to girls with 29.1%. Also, all age groups demonstrate an exponential increase of the prevalence of overweight: in 6-7 years (5.8%); 8-9 years (12%); 10-11 years (15%); and, 12-13 years old with 19.5%. A jump of prevalence of overweight and obesity between the age groups of 6-7 years, and 8-9 years was observed (17.9% to 25.4% obese and 5.8% to 12.0% overweight). The onset of puberty may be the possible cause. According to the Global Atlas of Childhood Obesity, North Macedonia is graded with a risk index of 7/11; i.e. it is expected that in the next decade until 2030 the obesity rate will rise to 52.5% for children aged 5-19 years old. It is with utmost importance to emphasize that continuous monitoring of children's nutritional status and their risk of obesity is essential, as to further prevent obesity and overweight in the pediatric population.

Keywords: BMI; North Macedonia; childhood obesity; overweight; prevalence.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight* / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Republic of North Macedonia / epidemiology
  • Young Adult