Prevalence of overweight and abdominal obesity in Greek children 6-12 years old: Results from the National Epidemiological Survey

Hippokratia 2011; 15 (1): 48-53

T. Tzotzas, E. Kapantais, K. Tziomalos, I. Ioannidis, A. Mortoglou, S. Bakatselos, M. Kaklamanou, L. Lanaras, D. Kaklamanou


Objective: To provide estimates of overweight (OW), obesity (OB) and abdominal obesity (AO) in a sample of children throughout the whole of Greece.
Material and Methods: This epidemiological, cross-sectional survey examined 3,140 children aged 6-12 y (1,589 boys and 1,551 girls) who were selected by stratified sampling through household family members of Greek adolescents attending school. Participants reported data on height, weight and waist circumference (WC). BMI and Waist to-Height ratio (WHtR) were calculated. AO was estimated using WC and WHtR.
Results: Overall prevalence of OW including OB was 31.2% in boys and 26.5% in girls, while OB prevalence was 9.4% and 6.4% respectively. The prevalence of AO based on WC (AO-WC), was similar in girls (14.2%) and boys (12.5%) while the prevalence of AO, based on WHtR (AO-WHtR), was higher in boys than in girls (25.6% vs 20.0%, p<0.0001). With increasing age, the prevalence of OW and OB decreases in both genders, and AO-WHtR only in girls. Rates of OW were significantly more prevalent in Greeks than in immigrants.
Conclusions: Overweight and obesity in Greek children is very prevalent, particularly in boys, comparable with that reported for Mediterranean European countries. Abdominal obesity also appears high. Preventive and treatment strategies are urgently needed to combat this national epidemic.