Concern has been expressed in recent years over the rising trends in overweight and obesity, particularly in children in developed countries. No recent data were available for Northern Ireland; therefore measurements of height and weight were included in a study in Northern Ireland originally designed as part of an international study to estimate the prevalence of symptoms of asthma and atopy in childhood. Twenty-six schools across the province were sampled, 2484 children aged mainly 13 and 14 y completed questionnaires, and 2307 were weighed and measured. Using recently proposed international guidelines on defining overweight and obesity in children the prevalence of overweight in boys was 16%, with 4% being obese. In girls 16% were also overweight and 2% were obese. This concurs with figures for English and Scottish schoolchildren up to 12 y of age from 1994. Less than one-sixth of obese boys but more than one-third of obese girls were on weight-reducing diets (the majority self-prescribed), reflecting differing attitudes towards excess weight. Conclusion: In line with figures in younger children from England and Scotland this study shows that 16% of boys and girls from Northern Ireland are classed as overweight using recent international guidelines. Only 15% of obese boys compared with 38% of obese girls stated that they were on weight-reducing diets.
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2001|