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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(1):138-47.

Risk factors for excess body fatness in New Zealand children.

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  • 1Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1020, New Zealand.



To identify demographic and lifestyle risk factors for excess body fatness in a multiethnic sample of New Zealand children.


Cross-sectional study.


A total of 1229 European, Polynesian, Asian, and 'Other' children aged 5-11 y (603 male, 626 female) living in New Zealand.


Percentage body fat (%BF) was measured using hand-to-foot bioelectrical impedance analysis, and overfat participants were defined as those with a %BF greater than 25% (boys) and 30% (girls). A parent proxy questionnaire was developed for assessing demographic and lifestyle factors, and multiday memory pedometers were used to estimate physical activity levels over five days.


After controlling for differences in sex, age, and socioeconomic status (SES), Asian children were more likely to have excess body fat than European children. The adjusted odds of overfat also increased with age and decreased with SES. Three lifestyle risk factors related to fat status were identified: low physical activity, skipping breakfast, and insufficient sleep on weekdays. Clustering of these risk factors resulted in a cumulative increase in the prevalence of overfat. Active transport, sports participation, lunch bought at school, fast food consumption, sugary drink consumption, and weekend sleep duration were not associated with fat status after adjustment for the selected demographic variables.


The findings from this study enhance our understanding of the risk factors for excess body fatness in New Zealand children, and highlight key demographic and lifestyle priorities for future interventions.

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