ESPE Abstracts (2015) 84 P-1-51

Distribution of Obesity Indices Among European Preschool Children and Associated Risk Factors: The ToyBox-Study

Sonya Galchevaa, Mina Latevaa, Violeta Iotovaa, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuijb, Greet Cardonb, Odysseas Androutsosc, Zbigniew Kulagad, Piotr Sochad, Luis Morenoe, Berthold Koletzkof, Yannis Maniosc & ToyBox-study Groupc


aMedical University of Varna, Varna, Bulgaria; bGhent University, Ghent, Belgium; cHarokopio University, Athens, Greece; dChildren’s Memorial Health Institute, Warsaw, Poland; eUniversity of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain; fLudwig Maximilians Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany


Background: Childhood obesity is a serious health problem, related to an increased risk of adult morbidity and mortality. Evidence indicates that central adiposity increases this risk to a higher degree compared to the general obesity indices.

Objective and hypotheses: To evaluate the distribution of anthropometric obesity indices among preschool children aged 3.5–5.5 years, from six European countries, and to examine their associations with certain obesity-related risk factors.

Method: 7576 children (mean age 4.74±0.44 years; 51.9% boys) from six European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Poland and Spain) participated in a baseline survey, conducted in 2012. Body weight, height and waist circumference (WC) were measured; BMI and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) were calculated. The prevalence of overweight (OW) and obesity (OB) was defined according to the IOTF criteria. WHtR values over 0.5 were used as a definition of abdominal obesity (AO). A standardized questionnaire was used to collect information on risk factors.

Results: The OW and OB rate were 11.0 and 3.5%, respectively, with a significantly higher prevalence among girls compared to boys (P<0.01). AO was found in 23.7% (21.8% boys vs 25.7% girls, P<0.001). Greek preschool children had the highest mean BMI and WC (16.1±1.7 kg/m2 and 53.3±4.4 cm, respectively). Anthropometric indices correlated significantly with the pre-gestational maternal weight (rBMI=0.215, rWC=0.221, rWHtR=0.147, P<0.01), maternal BMI (rBMI=0.217, rWC=0.176, rWHtR=0.153, P<0.01) and children’s birthweight (rBMI=0.139, rWC=0.147, P<0.05). Children from the low SES group had higher BMI, WC and WHtR compared to high SES (P<0.001). In the group of obese children we found significantly higher parental BMI and pre-gestational maternal weight (P<0.001), with higher maternal weight gain during pregnancy (P=0.048).

Conclusion: Obesity prevalence among preschoolers in Europe is of concern highlighting the need to identify cost-effective strategies to decrease it.

Funding: This work was supported by the Seventh Framework Programme (CORDIS FP7) of the European Commission under grant agreement n° 245200.