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20-year study shows significant rise in childhood obesity, especially among girls

Key findings included:

  • In 2002, about a fifth of four-year-olds - 22 per cent of girls and 18 per cent of boys - had a BMI of more than 25, compared with one in ten in 1982.
  • Six per cent of four year-old girls and two per cent of four-year-old boys had a BMI of more than 30 in 2002, compared with one per cent for both sexes in 1982.
  • Nearly a third of ten year-old girls (30 per cent) and a fifth of ten year-old boys (21 per cent) had a BMI of more than 25 in 2002, compared with 14 per cent of girls and eight per cent of boys in 1982.
  • Five per cent of the ten-year-old girls in the 2002 survey had a BMI of over 30, compared with one per cent in 1982. However, the level for boys actually fell from two per cent in 1982 to one per cent in 2002.
  • 11 per cent of 16-year-old girls had a BMI of more than 25 in both 2002 and 1982. The number with a BMI over 30 rose from one per cent in 1982 to two per cent in 2002.
  • Nine per cent of 16-year-old boys had a BMI of more than 25 in 2002, compared with 15 per cent in 1982. The percentage with a BMI of more than 30 remained stable at one per cent.

"Children living in Sweden tend to be more active than children in other countries such as the USA. But they spend more time in front of televisions and computers and tend to do less physical education at school than before" says Dr Holmback, who is also a visiting research fellow at the University of Chicago, USA.

"As societies become more technological, various aspects of everyday life demand less and less physical activity and this is bound to contribute to childhood obesity.

"And as overweight and obese children become overweight and obese adults they run a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes."


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Source:Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


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