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Dietary pattern and leisure time activity of overweight and normal weight children in Germany: sex-specific differences

Ina B Maier, Yelda Özel, Sabine Wagnerberger, Stephan C Bischoff and Ina Bergheim*

Author affiliations

Department of Nutritional Medicine (180a), University of Hohenheim, Fruwirthstrasse 12, Stuttgart, 70599, Germany

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:14  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-14

Published: 15 January 2013



Several studies indicate that dietary pattern and leisure time activities of adults not only differ between sexes but also between overweight and normal weight individuals. The aim of the present study was to determine if sex-specific differences in dietary pattern and leisure time activity already exist and are associated with weight status in young childhood.


Nutritional intake, anthropometric parameters, leisure time activities and socio- demographical factors were assessed in 100 overweight and 51 normal weight children (81 girls and 70 boys), aged 5–8 years.


In general, independent of body weight, boys ate more cheese while girls consumed more vegetables and spent more time with sedentary activities. Moreover, regardless of sex, total energy and macronutrient intake did not differ between normal weight and overweight children. Also, time spent with sportive activities did not differ between groups; however, overweight boys spent significantly more leisure time with sedentary activities than normal weight boys. Furthermore, BMI of mothers and time spent with sedentary activities were identified as independent risk factors for the development of overweight when performing multiple regression analyses.


Taken together, results of our study suggest that already at young age sex influences dietary pattern independent of body weight. Furthermore, an increased time spent with sedentary activities and an elevated maternal BMI were found to be associated with an elevated body weight in children. (Trial registration: NCT01306396)

Children; Dietary pattern; Obesity; Overweight; Sex; Physical activity