Background: Obesity prevalence is increasing among young children in both developed and developing countries, showing a tendency to persist with age and lead to early morbidity and mortality.
Objective and hypotheses: The aim of this study is to present the most recent trend in obesity prevalence and to investigate the changes in BMI among Bulgarian pre-pubertal children for a period of 17 years (from 1990 to 2007).
Method: Three cross-sectional surveys of random representative samples of 79 years old urban schoolchildren were conducted in 1999/2000 (n=1162), 2001/2002 (n=1004), and 2006/2007 (n=1043) respectively. Body weight and height were measured by trained personnel using standard procedures and BMI was calculated. The obesity prevalence was defined according to the International Obesity Task Force age- and gender-specific BMI cut-off points.
Results: There was a significant upward trend in the obesity prevalence over a 17-year period both among boys and girls. It was more pronounced in boys (3.2 vs 9.2 vs 10.6%, P<0.001) compared to girls (4.9 vs 4.3 vs 10.4%, P=0.003). No gender related difference in obesity prevalence was found during the last survey conducted in 2006/2007 (10.6 vs 10.4%, P>0.05). Mean BMI also steeply increased in the last 5 years both among males (16.7±2.8 in 2001/2002 vs 18.7±3.5 kg/m2 in 2006/2007, P<0.001) and females (16.9±2.7 in 2001/2002 vs 18.8±3.8 kg/m2 in 2006/2007, P<0.001).
Conclusion: The present study presents evidence of a significant increase in obesity prevalence and mean BMI among pre-pubertal children over time. Active preventive measures and regulations are needed to halt this positive trend of increasing childhood obesity and alleviate the burden of future diseases.
20 - 22 Sep 2014
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology