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J Paediatr Child Health. 2004 May-Jun;40(5-6):299-304.

Obesity and under-nutrition in a tertiary paediatric hospital.

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Departments of Paediatrics and Child Health, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.



(i) To determine the prevalence of over- and under-nutrition in both inpatients and outpatients in a tertiary paediatric hospital; (ii) to compare the prevalence of over-nutrition with that in the Australian community and (iii) to determine whether nutritional status has an impact on length of stay in hospital.


Patients aged over 12 months were proportionately sampled from medical and surgical wards and outpatient clinics. Data were collected for 245 inpatients (54% male) and 272 outpatients (55% male). Children's height, weight and body mass index (kg/m2) were measured. Overweight, obesity and under-nutrition were defined according to international criteria. Prevalence of overweight and obesity was compared with that in the 1995 Australian National Nutrition Survey (NNS).


Similar proportions of inpatients and outpatients were underweight (6%) and wasted (4%). The prevalence of overweight and obesity in inpatients (22%) was similar to the NNS but was significantly higher in outpatients (32%, P < 0.0001). In a regression model to predict inpatient length of stay, nutritional status (P = 0.004) and the interaction between age and nutritional status (P = 0.009) were significant predictors. For over-nourished inpatients, length of stay increased significantly with age. For normally nourished and under-nourished inpatients, length of stay was relatively constant, regardless of age.


There is a high prevalence of over-nutrition in paediatric patients, and increased length of stay for older over-nourished inpatients. These issues need to be addressed in terms of opportunities for intervention and impact on hospital resources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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