Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
BMJ. 2003 Mar 22;326(7390):624.

Central overweight and obesity in British youth aged 11-16 years: cross sectional surveys of waist circumference.

Author information

  • 1Department of Health and Human Sciences, London Metropolitan University, London N7 8DB. d.mccarthy@londonmet.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To compare changes over time in waist circumference (a measure of central fatness) and body mass index (a measure of overall obesity) in British youth.

DESIGN:

Representative cross sectional surveys in 1977, 1987, and 1997.

SETTING:

Great Britain.

PARTICIPANTS:

Young people aged 11-16 years surveyed in 1977 (boys) and 1987 (girls) for the British Standards Institute (n=3784) and in 1997 (both sexes) for the national diet and nutrition survey (n=776).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Waist circumference, expressed as a standard deviation score using the first survey as reference, and body mass index (weight(kg)/height(m)2), expressed as a standard deviation score against the British 1990 revised reference. Overweight and obesity were defined as the measurement exceeding the 91st and 98th centile, respectively.

RESULTS:

Waist circumference increased sharply over the period between surveys (mean increases for boys and girls, 6.9 and 6.2 cm, or 0.84 and 1.02 SD score units, P<0.0001). In centile terms, waist circumference increased more in girls than in boys. Increases in body mass index were smaller and similar by sex (means 1.5 and 1.6, or 0.47 and 0.53 SD score units, P<0.0001). Waist circumference in 1997 exceeded the 91st centile in 28% (n=110) of boys and 38% (n=147) of girls (against 9% for both sexes in 1977-87, P<0.0001), whereas 14% (n=54) and 17% (n=68), respectively, exceeded the 98th centile (3% in 1977-87, P<0.0001). The corresponding rates for body mass index in 1997 were 21% (n=80) of boys and 17% (n=67) of girls exceeding the 91st centile (8% and 6% in 1977-87) and 10% (n=39) and 8% (n=32) exceeding the 98th centile (3% and 2% in 1977-87).

CONCLUSIONS:

Trends in waist circumference during the past 10-20 years have greatly exceeded those in body mass index, particularly in girls, showing that body mass index is a poor proxy for central fatness. Body mass index has therefore systematically underestimated the prevalence of obesity in young people.

PMID:
12649234
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC151972
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (2)Free text

Figure 1
Figure 2
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk