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Research Article

Trends in Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Danish Infants, Children and Adolescents – Are We Still on a Plateau?



Abstract

Background After the worldwide steep increase in child and adolescent overweight and obesity during the last decades, there is now evidence of a levelling off in the prevalence in many countries in the Western world. Aim To examine whether there still is a plateau in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Danish children and adolescents, or whether the prevalence is decreasing or rising again. Methods The trends in the prevalence rates were based on three data sets providing comparable repeated estimates: 1) the Danish Health Visitors Child Health Database (DHVCHD) with measurements on infant and childhood height and weight from 2002 to 2011 (n up to 39,984), 2) the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) with maternal reports of measured infant and childhood height and weight from 1998 to 2010 (n up to 56,826) and 3) the Danish part of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey (HBSC) with self-reported information on adolescent height and weight from the years 2002 to 2010 (n = 16,557). Overweight and obesity were categorized according to WHO growth standards. Trends were assessed by repeated point estimates and linear regression analyses providing regression coefficients for changes in per cent per year with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results The prevalence rates of overweight and obesity for infants, children and adolescents showed a mixed pattern of decline, stability and increase (ranging from -1.10 through 0.29 per cent per year with CI’s from -3.10 through 2.37). Overall, there were no consistent statistically significant trends upwards or downwards, although some significant downward trends in childhood and adolescence were observed. Conclusion This study, based on data from 1998 through 2011, showed that the prevalence rates of overweight and obesity among Danish infants, children and adolescents were largely still on a plateau with tendencies for a decline among children and adolescents.


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