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Obes Rev. 2011 Nov;12(11):887-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00899.x. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

The prevalence of increased central adiposity in Australian school children 1985 to 2007.

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  • 1Kids Research Institute at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


The epidemic of obesity as measured by body mass index (BMI) maybe plateauing. However, studies using skin-fold and waist circumference measurements suggest that BMI may underestimate changes in fatness in children. In this study we examine changes in waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) in Australian children between 1985 and 2007, by undertaking secondary data analysis of three national data sets. The mean waist circumference z-score for boys increased from -0.02 (95% CI -0.05 to 0.01) in 1985, to 0.33 (0.26 to 0.40) in 1995 and 0.41 (0.35 to 0.47) in 2007 and was greater (P<0.001) than the increase in BMI z-score. The increase in mean waist circumference z-score for girls was greater (P<0.001) than boys and increased from -0.02 (0.05 to 0.01) in 1985, to 0.33 (0.26 to 0.41) in 1995 and to 0.57 (0.51 to 0.63) in 2007. The number of children with a WHtR ≥ 0.5 increased from 8.6% in 1985, to 13.6% in 1995 and 18.3% in 2007. Between 1985 and 2007 central adiposity increased at a faster rate than total adiposity, particularly in girls. The secular increase in waist circumference and WHtR is concerning as measures of central adiposity are associated with metabolic and cardiovascular risk.

© 2011 The Authors. obesity reviews © 2011 International Association for the Study of Obesity.

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