Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Epidemiology of overweight and obesity among Italian early adolescents: relation with physical activity and sedentary behaviour

  • Alessio Vieno (a1), Massimo Santinello (a1) and Maria Cristiana Martin (a2)

Aims – The prevalence of overweight and obesity and the role of possible related factors were analysed among Italian early adolescents. Method – The survey reported here is part of the larger “Health Behaviour in School Aged Children” (HBSC) trans-national study, which is co-ordinated by the European Office of the World Health Organization. The data were gathered through self-administered questionnaires filled out by a representative sample of 4,386 (48.4% males) Italian students (11-, 13- and 15-year old). Results – The overall prevalence is 16.7% for overweight and 2.5% for obesity. Boys are more at risk than girls for the two phenomena. Moreover, age group, mother's education, area of residence, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour show a significant association with both outcomes. Conclusion – Findings of the present study are in agreement with similar studies carried out on early adolescents population, showing that prevalence in overweight and obesity decreases during this phase and is more diffused among boys than girls. The prevalence of both diseases is higher in the South and Islands. Sedentary behaviour and physical activity are substantive factors which preventive interventions could act on.

Declaration of Interest: the HBSC study is partly funded by the University of Padova through a scholarship attributed to Dr. Alessio Vieno (Year 2001 – prot. CPDR013233).

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr. A. Vieno Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione, Università di Padova, LIRIPAC, Via Belzoni 80, 35131 Padova (Italy). Fax: +39-049-827.8451 E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

B. Buddeburg-Fisher , R. Klaghofer & V. Reed (1999). Association between body weight, psychiatric disorders and body image in female adolescents. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic 68, 325332.

F. Celi , V. Bini , G. De Giorgi , D. Molinari , F. Faraoni , G. Di Stefano , M.L. Bacosi M.G. Berioli G. Contessa & A. Falorni (2003). Epidemiology of overweight and obesity among school children and adolescents in three provinces of central Italy, 1993-2001: study of potential influencing variables. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57, 10451051.

T. Cole , M. Bellizzi , K. Flegal & W. Dietz (2000). Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: inter-national survey. British Medical Journal 320, 16.

E. De Vito , G. La Torre , E. Langiano , D. Berardi & G. Riccardi (1999). Overweight and obesity among secondary school children in Central Italy. European Journal of Epidemiology 15, 649654.

W.H. Dietz (1990). You are what you eat - what you eat is what you are. Journal of Adolescent Health Care 11, 7681.

R.M Gardner , B.N. Friedman & N.A. Jackson (1999). Body estimations, body dissatisfaction, and ideal size preferences in children six through thirteen. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 28, 603618.

E. Goodman , B.R. Hinden & S. Khandelwal (2000). Accuracy of teen and parental reports of obesity and body mass index. Pediatrics 106, 5258.

D.W. Hosmer & S. Lemeshow (2000). Applied Logistic Regression. Second Edition. John Wiley & Sons: New York.

I. Janssen , W.M. Craig , W.F. Boyce & W. Pickett (2004). Association between overweight and obesity with bullying behaviours in school-aged children. Pediatrics 113, 11871194.

S.Y.S. Kimm , N.W. Glynn , A.M. Kriska , B.A. Barton , S.S. Kronsberg , S.R. Daniels , P.B. Crawford , Z.I. Sabry & L. Kiang (2002). Decline in physical activity in black girls and white girls during adolescence. New England Journal of Medicine 347, 709715.

B. Livingstone (2000). Epidemiology of childhood obesity in Europe. European Journal of Pediatrics 159, 1434.

T. Lobstein & M.L. Frelut (2003). Prevalence of overweight among children in Europe. Obesity Reviews 4, 195200.

C. Maffeis (2000). Aetiology of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. European Journal of Pediatrics 159, 3544.

D. Molnar (2000). Physical activity in relation to overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. European Journal of Pediatrics 159, 4555.

A. Must , P.F. Jacques , G.E. Dallal , C.J. Bajema & W.H. Dietz (1992) Long-term morbidity and mortality of overweight adolescents: a follow-up of the Harvard Growth Study 1922 to 1935. New England Journal of Medicine 327, 13501355.

J.J. Prochaska , J.F. Sallis & B. Long (2001). A physical activity screening measure for use with adolescents in primary care. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 155, 554, 559.

T.N. Robinson (1999). Reducing children's television viewing to pre-vent obesity: a randomised control trial. American Journal of Medical Association 282, 15611567.

M. Stradmeijer , J. Bosch , W. Koops & J. Seidell (2000). Family functioning and psychosocial adjustment in overweight youngsters. International Journal of Eating Disorders 27, 110114.

J. Van den Bulck (2000). Is television bad for your health? Behavior and body image of the adolescent ‘couch potato’. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 29, 273288.

W.J. Wallace , D. Sheslow , & S. Hassink (1993). Obesity in children: a risk for depression. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 699, 301303.

A.M. Wolf & G.A. Colditz (1998). Current estimates of the economic cost of obesity in the United States. Obesity Research 6, 97106.

A.J. Zametkin , C.K. Zoon , H.W. Klein & S. Munson (2004). Psychiatric aspects of child and adolescent obesity: a review of the past 10 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 43, 134150.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
  • ISSN: 2045-7960
  • EISSN: 2045-7979
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-psychiatric-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *