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Hormones (Athens). 2009 Jan-Mar;8(1):53-9.

Sociodemographic, ethnic and dietary factors associated with childhood obesity in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece.

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Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Technological Educational Institution of Thessaloniki, Greece.



To investigate sociodemographic, ethnic and dietary factors associated with the development of childhood obesity.


276 children, aged 8-12 years, randomly selected from seven schools in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece, participated in the study. 13% of the children were immigrants from neighboring Balkan countries and ex-Soviet Union countries. Data was collected using specific validated questionnaires. Anthropometric measurements, dietary intake and physical activity assessment were carried out for all children.


26.1% of the boys and 22.4% of the girls were overweight and a further 11.6% of boys and 10.9% of girls were obese. The overweight and obesity rate was significantly lower in immigrants (10% and 3.3%) compared to Greeks (25.8% and 12.7%), p=0.024. Obese children compared to their non-obese counterparts a) had parents who were obese at a higher percentage (p=0.001), b) reported that food preparation was carried out by their grandmother (p=0.006) and c) had less pocket money (p=0.004). Daily energy and carbohydrate intakes were significantly higher in immigrants compared to Greeks (1611+/-599Kcal vs 1363+/-471Kcal, p=0.036 and 188.31+/-70.63g vs 149.87+/-56.41g, p=0.001) and the same was true for exercise (6.38+/-7.22 h/w vs 4.14+/-4.18 h/w, p=0.049).


In planning interventions for childhood obesity, sociodemographic factors in addition to food intake and physical activity patterns have to be considered.

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