Less obesity but higher inequalities in Portuguese children: Trends of childhood obesity between 2002--2016

Rodrigues, Daniela; Muc, Magdalena; Machado-Rodrigues, Aristides M and Padez, Cristina (2021). Less obesity but higher inequalities in Portuguese children: Trends of childhood obesity between 2002--2016. Acta Paediatrica, 110(5) pp. 1526–1533.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/apa.15708


To observe the trends of overweight and obesity among Portuguese children from 2002 to 2016, before and during the years of the economic crisis, and compare these trends according to family's socio-economic position (SEP).

Prevalence rates were calculated using data from six studies providing comparable estimates from 2002, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2016 for children aged 6–10-years living in the Portuguese Midlands (n = 7192; 50.2% girls). Height and weight were objectively measured; children and family characteristics were collected by standard questionnaires. A logistic regression was used to test the association between variables.

Between 2002 and 2016, there was a decrease in the prevalence of overweight and obesity, which reached a statistical significance for girls. The prevalence of overweight, including obesity, was high (low-SEP = 30.5%; high-SEP = 20.5%) and a widening of socio-economic inequalities was found. Socio-economically disadvantaged children had more than 2 times the odds of having obesity than children from higher-SEP, even after adjusting for sex, physical activity and screen-time.

While a decrease in overall rates of overweight and obesity was observed from 2002 to 2016, the social inequalities have been widened which suggest the need for public efforts to promote healthy weight at a population level, especially in lower socio-economic classes.

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