Objective: To determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in primary school-aged children in the Hunter region and examine associations with gender, age, socioeconomic status (SES) and geographical location. Design: Cross-sectional survey of a stratified sample of randomly selected government primary schools in the Hunter region with SES defined by Socio-Economic Index For Areas index and geographical location based on school education areas. Subjects: A total of 2224 out of 5206 (42.7%) primary school children from randomly selected government primary schools representing year 1 to year 6 (x = 9.61 ± 1.7). Setting: Sixteen government primary schools in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. Main outcome measures: Overweight and obesity were assessed using the international body mass index cut points, standardised for both age and gender as defined by Cole. Data analyses: Chi square (∝ = 0.05) was used to compare prevalence across categories of gender, age, SES or geographical location. Results: Of the 2224 children who had their height and weight measured, 28.35% (n = 606) were either overweight (n = 415, 19.3%) or obese (n = 191, 9.06%). Significant differences in the prevalence of combined overweight and obesity were observed between children residing in high and low socioeconomic areas, by ages and between boys and girls. Conclusion or application: The prevalence of childhood obesity is high and appears more prevalent in girls, in children residing in low-income areas and at specific ages. Determinants of the observed differences will need to be investigated in order to address the higher prevalence of childhood obesity in high-risk population groups.
Nutrition & Dietetics Vol. 65, Issue 3, p. 192-197