Send to

Choose Destination
Public Health Nutr. 2018 Aug;21(11):2056-2064. doi: 10.1017/S1368980018000290. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

What factors may contribute to sex differences in childhood obesity prevalence in China?

Author information

1The Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service,New York University,New York,NY,USA.
2Systems-oriented Global Childhood Obesity Intervention Program,Fisher Institute of Health and Well-being,College of Health,Ball State University,Muncie, IN,USA.
3Department of Health Behavior and Policy, School of Medicine,Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond,VA,USA.
4Carolina Population Center,University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill,NC,USA.
5Nanjing Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention,Nanjing,People's Republic of China.
7National Institute for Nutrition and Health,Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention,Beijing,People's Republic of China.



Previous studies in China showed large sex differences in childhood overweight and obesity (OW/OB) rates. However, limited research has examined the cause of these sex differences. The present study aimed to examine individual and parental/familial factors associated with sex differences in childhood OW/OB rates in China.


Variables associated with child weight status, beliefs and behaviours, and obesity-related parenting practices were selected to examine their sex differences and association with a sex difference in child OW/OB outcomes using logistic regression analysis.


Cross-sectional data analysis using the 2011 China Health and Nutrition Survey.


Children aged 6-17 years (n 1544) and their parents.


Overall child OW/OB prevalence was 16·8 %. Adolescent boys (AB; 12-17 years) were about twice as likely to be overweight/obese as adolescent girls (AG; 15·5 v. 8·4 %, P<0·05). AB more likely had energy intake exceeding recommendations, self-perceived underweight, underestimated their body weight and were satisfied with their physical activity level than AG. AG more likely practised weight-loss management through diet and self-perceived overweight than AB. Mothers more likely identified AG's weight accurately but underestimated AB's weight. Stronger associations with risk of childhood OW/OB were found in boys than girls in dieting to lose weight (OR=6·7 in boys v. 2·6 in girls) and combined maternal and child perception of the child's overweight (OR=35·4 in boys v. 14·2 in girls).


Large sex differences in childhood obesity may be related to the sex disparities in weight-related beliefs and behaviours among children and their parents in China.


Children; China; Obesity; Parenting; Sex

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Cambridge University Press Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center