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Overweight among students aged 11–15 years and its relationship with breakfast, area of residence and parents’ education: results from the Italian HBSC 2010 cross-sectional study

Giacomo Lazzeri1*, Mariano Vincenzo Giacchi1, Angela Spinelli2, Andrea Pammolli1, Paola Dalmasso3, Paola Nardone2, Anna Lamberti2 and Franco Cavallo3

Author Affiliations

1 CREPS - Center of Research for Health Education and Promotion, Department Molecular and Developmental Medicine, University of Siena, Via A. Moro 2, 53100 Siena, Italy

2 National Center for Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health Promotion, National Institute of Health, Roma, Italy

3 Department of Public Health and Pediatrics, University of Torino, Torino, Italy

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Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:69  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-69

Published: 5 July 2014

Abstract

Background

The international increase in overweight and obesity among children and adolescents over the past three decades confirms that childhood obesity is a global ‘epidemic’. The World Health Organization considers childhood obesity to be a major public health concern. Childhood obesity is associated with cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal complications, and may have psycho-social consequences. The aim of this paper is to examine overweight (including obesity) prevalence and its association with geographic area of residence, parental education and daily breakfast consumption in Italian students aged 11–15 yrs.

Methods

A nationally representative sample of 11–15 year old students from 20 Italian Regions (Italian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children 2010-HBSC) was randomly selected (2,504 schools and 77,113 students). Self-reported anonymous questionnaires, prepared by the international HBSC network, were used to collect the data. BMI was calculated using self-reported weight and height and the International Obesity Task Force cut-offs. Multiple logistic regressions were performed to assess the relationship between the risk of overweight and parental education, area of residence and breakfast consumption in each age group and gender.

Results

Boys were more likely to be overweight or obese than girls (28.1% vs. 18.9% at 11 yrs-old, 24.8% vs. 16.5% at 13 yrs and 25.4 vs. 11.8% at 15 yrs). The prevalence of overweight and obesity was lower among the older girls. Overweight and obesity rates increased from the North of Italy to the South in both boys and girls and in all age groups. Boys 11-15 yrs living in southern Italy had an OR=2.05 (1.77-2.38) and girls 2.04 (95% CI 1.70-2.44) for overweight (including obesity) compared with those living in the North. Parent’s low educational level and no daily breakfast consumption were also associated with overweight including obesity (p<0.05).

Conclusion

The prevalence of obesity and overweight in Italian school-children 11-15 yrs old are high, in particular in the South and in boys. These findings suggest appropriate interventions are needed, at the community as well as the individual level, in particular in the southern regions. However, more research is warranted on intermediary factors to determine which interventions are likely to be most effective.

Keywords:
Adolescents; BMI; Breakfast; Education; Residence