Childhood overweight and obesity fell slightly in Spain between 2005 and 2017
A study by IDIAPJGol used data from more than 2.5 million minors in 8 autonomous communities. The researchers found that differences persist between communities and between boys and girls.
IDIAPJGol researchers, in collaboration with the Spanish Medicines Agency, have analyzed data from more than 2.5 million boys and girls between the ages of 2 and 17 in eight autonomous communities of Spain (Aragón, Asturias , Cantabria, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Madrid, Murcia and Navarra). The calculation of overweight or obesity has been made based on the guidelines of the World Health Organization and the study has analyzed data on the height and weight of the minors between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2017 ( in the case of Castilla y León, the measurement began in 2011).
In general terms, the levels of overweight and obesity decreased from 2005 to 2017 in all age groups and sex, as well as in the majority of autonomous communities. However, Spain continues to have one of the highest levels of childhood overweight and obesity in Europe , with an average of 5% to 10% more than in other countries.
The study also identified that boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 7 are the most vulnerable to becoming overweight or obese. In addition, the study concludes that obesity increased, in general, in boys and girls from 2 years of age, reaching a peak at 7 years in girls and at 9 years in boys . "This indicates the importance of public health promotion programs at an early age", point out those responsible for the study.
Boys, more affected by overweight and obesity than girls
Boys had higher levels of overweight and obesity than girls in the eight autonomous communities. Specifically, children living in Murcia are those with the highest levels of overweight and obesity .
The differences in the patterns of childhood overweight and obesity by sex could be explained by many mechanisms, such as body composition, hormones, differences in levels of physical activity, and social pressures and expectations of gender. “Interventions that take into account gender differences in levels of physical activity, relationship with food, and body image may be helpful in reducing these observed disparities” , the researchers note.
On the other hand, in boys and girls between 6 and 11 years old, obesity levels fell from 19.5% in 2005 to 17.6% in 2017. Furthermore, in the population between 2 and 5 years old, the The decrease in obesity was 30%, this being the age group with the most pronounced decrease in all the communities.
On the other hand, the lowest obesity levels were observed in Navarra . Although some peculiarities were found, such as that in girls between 12 and 17 years old, the prevalence increased from 6.6% to 8.3% from 2005 to 2017.
The conclusions also indicate that the rates of overweight and obesity decrease, in general, with the arrival of adolescence, probably due to the changes at the hormonal and physical level that this implies.
In a previous study with data from only Catalonia similar results were observed. However, this study identified that childhood overweight and obesity increased in the most deprived urban areas and in children of non-Spanish nationalities. “In the areas with a lower socioeconomic level, the levels of overweight and / or obesity increased slightly, while in the richest areas there was a significant reduction, thus increasing the inequality gap. For example, between 2006 and 2016, the prevalence of obesity decreased by 15.8% in girls aged 6-11 years who lived in areas with higher socioeconomic status, but instead increased by 7.3% in the most deprived areas. "
The data for the research come from two databases of electronic medical records: the Database for Pharmacoepidemiological Research in Primary Care (BIFAP) and the Information System for the Development of Research in Primary Care (SIDIAP). The study is part of the ECHOCAT project (Urban environment and childhood obesity in Catalonia), funded by La Marató.
>> See the original article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34384717/
de Bont J, Bennett M, León-Muñoz LM, Duarte-Salles T. The prevalence and incidence rate of overweight and obesity among 2.5 million children and adolescents in Spain. Rev Esp Cardiol (Engl Ed). 2021 Aug 9:S1885-5857(21)00216-4. English, Spanish. doi: 10.1016/j.rec.2021.07.002. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34384717.