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Arch Dis Child. Jan 2004; 89(1): 30–36.
PMCID: PMC1755912

Ethnic group differences in overweight and obese children and young people in England: cross sectional survey


Aims: To determine the percentage of children and young adults who are obese or overweight within different ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

Methods: Secondary analysis of data on 5689 children and young adults aged 2–20 years from the 1999 Health Survey for England.

Results: Twenty three per cent of children (n = 1311) were overweight, of whom 6% (n = 358) were obese. More girls than boys were overweight (24% v 22%). Afro-Caribbean girls were more likely to be overweight (odds ratio 1.73, 95% CI 1.29 to 2.33), and Afro-Caribbean and Pakistani girls were more likely to be obese than girls in the general population (odds ratios 2.74 (95% CI 1.74 to 4.31) and 1.71 (95% CI 1.06 to 2.76), respectively). Indian and Pakistani boys were more likely to be overweight (odds ratios 1.55 (95% CI 1.12 to 2.17) and 1.36 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.83), respectively). There were no significant differences in the prevalence of obese and overweight children from different social classes.

Conclusion: The percentage of children and young adults who are obese and overweight differs by ethnic group and sex, but not by social class. British Afro-Caribbean and Pakistani girls have an increased risk of being obese and Indian and Pakistani boys have an increased risk of being overweight than the general population. These individuals may be at greater combined cumulative risk of morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease and so may be a priority for initiatives to target groups of children at particular risk of obesity.

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Selected References

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Figures and Tables

Figure 1
Sampling method for 1999 Health Survey for England focus on ethnic minorities.

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