Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 36
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Viveiro, Carolina Brito, Sara and Moleiro, Pascoal 2016. Sobrepeso e obesidade pediátrica: a realidade portuguesa. Revista Portuguesa de Saúde Pública, Vol. 34, Issue. 1, p. 30.

    de Jong-Lenters, Maddelon van Dommelen, Paula Schuller, Annemarie A. and Verrips, Erik H. W. 2015. Body mass index and dental caries in children aged 5 to 8 years attending a dental paediatric referral practice in the Netherlands. BMC Research Notes, Vol. 8, Issue. 1,

    De Vet, Emely Stok, F. Marijn De Wit, John B.F. and De Ridder, Denise T.D. 2015. The habitual nature of unhealthy snacking: How powerful are habits in adolescence?. Appetite, Vol. 95, p. 182.

    Jurak, Gregor Sorić, Maroje Starc, Gregor Kovač, Marjeta Mišigoj-Duraković, Marjeta Borer, Katarina and Strel, Janko 2015. School day and weekend patterns of physical activity in urban 11-year-olds: A cross-cultural comparison. American Journal of Human Biology, Vol. 27, Issue. 2, p. 192.

    Martin, Rosemarie and Murtagh, Elaine M. 2015. An intervention to improve the physical activity levels of children: Design and rationale of the ‘Active Classrooms’ cluster randomised controlled trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials, Vol. 41, p. 180.

    Simons, Monique Chinapaw, Mai JM van de Bovenkamp, Maaike de Boer, Michiel R Seidell, Jacob C Brug, Johannes and de Vet, Emely 2014. Active video games as a tool to prevent excessive weight gain in adolescents: rationale, design and methods of a randomized controlled trial. BMC Public Health, Vol. 14, Issue. 1,

    Verrotti, A. Penta, L. Zenzeri, L. Agostinelli, S. and De Feo, P. 2014. Childhood obesity: prevention and strategies of intervention. A systematic review of school-based interventions in primary schools. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, Vol. 37, Issue. 12, p. 1155.

    del Villar-Rubín, S. Escorihuela Esteban, R. García-Anguita, A. Ortega Moreno, L. and Garcés Segura, C. 2013. Valoración de la evolución temporal del sobrepeso desde la edad prepuberal hasta la adolescencia. Anales de Pediatría, Vol. 78, Issue. 6, p. 389.

    Laguna, María Ruiz, Jonatan R Gallardo, Cristian García-Pastor, Teresa Lara, María-Teresa and Aznar, Susana 2013. Obesity and physical activity patterns in children and adolescents. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Vol. 49, Issue. 11, p. 942.

    Brussoni, Mariana Olsen, Lise L. Pike, Ian and Sleet, David A. 2012. Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Vol. 9, Issue. 12, p. 3134.

    Kambas, A. Venetsanou, F. Giannakidou, D. Fatouros, I.G. Avloniti, A. Chatzinikolaou, A. Draganidis, D. and Zimmer, R. 2012. The Motor-Proficiency-Test for children between 4 and 6 years of age (MOT 4–6): An investigation of its suitability in Greece. Research in Developmental Disabilities, Vol. 33, Issue. 5, p. 1626.

    Aznar, S. Naylor, P. J. Silva, P. Pérez, M. Angulo, T. Laguna, M. Lara, M. T. and López-Chicharro, J. 2011. Patterns of physical activity in Spanish children: a descriptive pilot study. Child: Care, Health and Development, Vol. 37, Issue. 3, p. 322.

    El-Sayed, A. M. Scarborough, P. and Galea, S. 2011. Ethnic inequalities in obesity among children and adults in the UK: a systematic review of the literature. Obesity Reviews, Vol. 12, Issue. 5, p. e516.

    Hamel, Lauren M. Robbins, Lorraine B. and Wilbur, JoEllen 2011. Computer- and web-based interventions to increase preadolescent and adolescent physical activity: a systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 67, Issue. 2, p. 251.

    2011. PAEDIATRIC OBESITY: TRENDS AND CAUSES. Nutrition & Dietetics, Vol. 68, Issue. 3, p. 236.

    Laguna Nieto, María Alegre, Luis M. Aznar Laín, Susana Abián Vicén, Javier Martín Casado, Laura and Aguado Jódar, Xavier 2010. ¿Afecta el sobrepeso a la huella plantar y al equilibrio de niños en edad escolar?. Apunts. Medicina de l'Esport, Vol. 45, Issue. 165, p. 9.

    Saloumi, C. and Plourde, H. 2010. Differences in psychological correlates of excess weight between adolescents and young adults in Canada. Psychology, Health & Medicine, Vol. 15, Issue. 3, p. 314.

    Caniato, Riccardo N. Stich, Heribert L. Alvarenga, Marlies Kraemer, Alexander and Baune, Bernhard T. 2009. Changing rates of physical and psychosocial impairments over 9 years in cohorts of school beginners in Germany. Journal of Public Health, Vol. 17, Issue. 2, p. 137.

    Ji, Cheng Ye and Cheng, Tsung O. 2009. Epidemic increase in overweight and obesity in Chinese children from 1985 to 2005. International Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 132, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Kirchengast, Sylvia and Schober, Edith 2008. Obesity among male adolescent migrants in Vienna, Austria. Economics & Human Biology, Vol. 6, Issue. 2, p. 204.


Childhood obesity in Europe: a growing concern

  • MBE Livingstone (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2001

Estimation of the prevalence and secular trends in paediatric obesity in Europe is impeded by methodological problems in the definition of obesity and the paucity of data sets that mirror the demographic, cultural and socioeconomic composition of the European population. The available prevalence data show that paediatric obesity is increasing throughout Europe but the patterns vary with time, age, sex and geographical region. The highest rates of obesity are observed in eastern and southern European countries. Even within countries there may be marked variability in the rates of obesity. It is unclear whether these trends are a simple consequence of an overall increase in fatness in Europe or whether there may be sub-groups of children who, at certain ages, are either particularly susceptible to environmental challenges or are selectively exposed to such challenges. In addition to the general increase in adiposity in European youth, there is also evidence of an increasing degree of obesity, particularly in older children and adolescents. No definite conclusions can be made about the respective contribution of energy intake and physical activity to the increasing prevalence of obesity. Changing demographic and social circumstances are linked to childhood obesity but it is highly unlikely that these interact in similar ways in the genesis of obesity in different individuals and population groups. In conclusion, the limited understanding of the variability in susceptibility to obesity in European youth provides powerful justification for the development of preventive strategies which are population based rather than selectively targeted at high-risk children.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Childhood obesity in Europe: a growing concern
      Your Kindle email address
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Childhood obesity in Europe: a growing concern
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Childhood obesity in Europe: a growing concern
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: 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.

1C Power , JK Lake , TJ Cole . Measurement and long term health risks of child and adolescent fatness. Int. J Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1997; 21: 507–26.

3MK Serdula , D Ivery , RJ Coates , DS Freedman , DF Williamson , T Byers . Do obese children become obese adults? A review of the literature. Prev. Med. 1993; 22: 167–77.

4RC Whitaker , JA Wright , MS Pepe , KD Seidel , WH Dietz . Prediciting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. N. Eng. J. Med. 1997; 337: 869–73.

5SL Gortmaker , A Must , JM Perrin , AM Sobol , WH Dietz . Social and economic consequences of overweight in adolescence and young adulthood. N. Eng. J. Med. 1993; 329: 1008–12.

6JD Sargent , DG Blanchflower . Obesity and stature in adolescence and earnings in young adulthood. Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 1994; 148: 681–7.

8A Must , PF Jacques , GE Dallal , CJ Bajema , WH Dietz . Longterm morbidity and mortality of overweight adolescents: a follow-up of the Harvard Growth Study of 1922 to 1935. N. Eng. J. Med. 1992; 327: 1350–5.

10BM Popkin , CM Doak . The obesity epidemic is a worldwide phenomenon. Nutr. Rev. 1998; 56: 106–14.

12MB Zimmermann , SY Hess , RF Hurrell . A national study of the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 6-12-y-old Swiss children: body mass index, body-weight perceptions and goals. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000; 54: 568–72.

13JH Himes . Reliability of anthropometric methods and replicate measurements. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 1989; 79: 7780.

15EM Poskitt . Defining childhood obesity: the relative body mass index (BMI). Acta Paediatr. 1995; 84: 961–3

17AM Prentice . Body mass index standards for children are useful for clinicians but not yet for epidemiologists. BMJ 1998; 317: 1401–2.

18A Pietrobelli , MS Faith , DB Allison , D Gallagher , G Chiumello , SB Heymsfield . Body mass index as a measure of adiposity among children and adolescents: a validation study. J. Paediatr. 1998; 132: 204–10.

19SR Daniels , PR Khoury , JA Morrison . The utility of body mass index as a measure of body fatness in children and adolescents: differences by age and gender. Pediatrics 1997; 99: 804–7.

21TJ Cole , JV Freeman , MA Preece . Body mass index reference curves for the UK, 1990. Arch. Dis. Child. 1995; 73: 25–9.

23G Lindgren , A Strandell , T Cole , M Healy , J Tanner . Swedish population reference standards for height, weight and body mass index attained at 6 to 16 years (girls) or 19 years (boys). Acta. Paediatr. 1995; 84: 1019–28.

24RP Troiano , KM Flegal . Overweight prevalence among youth in the United States: why so many different numbers? Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1999; 23: S22–7.

25TJ Cole , MC Bellizzi , KM Flegal , WH Dietz . Establishing a standard definition for childhood overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ 2000; 320: 1240–3.

26KM Flegal . Defining obesity in children and adolescents: epidemiological approaches. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 1993; 33: 307–12.

27O Stark , E Atkins , OH Wolff , JWB Douglas . Longitudinal study of obesity in the National Survey of Health and Development. BMJ 1981; 283: 13–7.

28CS Peckham , O Stark , V Simonite , OH Wolff . Prevalence of obesity in British children born in 1946 and 1958. BMJ 1983; 286: 1237–42.

29JM Hughes , L Li , S Chinn , RJ Rona . Trends in growth in England and Scotland 1972 to 1994. Arch. Dis. Child 1997; 76: 182–9.

31MBE Livingstone . Epidemiology of childhood obesity in Europe. Eur. J. Pediatr. 2000; 159: S14–34.

37JJ Reilly , AR Dorosty , PM Emmett . Prevlence of overweight and obesity in British children: cohort study. BMJ 1999; 319: 1039.

39EM Nuutinen , J Turtinen , T Pokka , V Kuusela , S Dahlström , J Viikari , M Uhari , M Dahl , EA Kaprio , E Pesonen , M Pietikäinen , MK Salo , HK Åkerblom . Obesity in children, adolescents and young adults. Ann. Med. 1991; 23: 41–6.

41C Maffeis , G Talamini , L Tatò . Influence of diet, physical activity and parents' obesity on children's adiposity: a four-year longitudinal study. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1998; 22: 17.

44K Kromeyer-Hauschild , U Jaeger , H Hoyer . Prevalence of overweight and obesity among school children in Jena (Germany). Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1999; 23 1143–50.

45JA Amorim Cruz . Dietary habits and nutritional status in adolescents over Europe – Southern Europe. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000; 54: S29–35.

46MF Rolland-Cachera , F Bellisle , M Deheeger . Nutritional status and food intake in adolescents living in Western Europe. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000; 54: S41–6.

47G Samuelson . Dietary habits and nutritional status in adolescents over Europe. An overview of current studies in the Nordic countries. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000; 54: S21–8.

49KM Flegal . The obesity epidemic in children and adults: current evidence and research issues. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 1999; 31: S509–S14.

50N Barth , A Ziegler , GW Himmelmann , H Coners , M Wabitsch , K Hennighausen , H Mayer , H Remschmidt , H Schäfer , J Hebebrand . Significant weight gains in a clinical sample of obese children and adolescents between 1985 and 1995. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1997; 21: 122–6.

52EM Poskitt , TJ Cole . Do fat babies stay fat?. BMJ 1977; 1: 79.

54FEM Braddon , B Rodgers , MEJ Wadsworth , JMC Davies . Onset of obesity in a 36 year birth cohort study. BMJ 1986; 293: 299303.

69C Maffeis , S Provera , L Filippi , G Sidoti , S Schena , L Pinelli , L Tatò . Distribution of food intake as a risk factor for childhood obesity. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 2000; 24: 7580.

70AM Prentice , SA Jebb . Obesity in Britain: gluttony or sloth? BMJ 1995; 311: 437–9.

71D Molnár , MBE Livingstone . Physical activity in relation to overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. Eur. J Pediatr. 2000; 159: S45–55.

73CJ Riddoch , CAG Boreham . The health-related physical activity of children. Sports Med. 1995; 19: 86102.

76SL Gortmaker , A Must , AM Sobol , K Peterson , GA Colditz , WH Dietz . Television watching as a cause of increasing obesity among children in the United states, 1986–1990. Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 1996; 150: 356–62.

77M Deheeger , MF Rolland-Cachera , AM Fonvieille . Physical activity and body composition in 10 year old French children: linkage with nutritional intake. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1997; 21: 372–9.

78RE Andersen , CJ Crespo , SJ Bartlett , LJ Cheskin , M Pratt . Relationship of physical activity and television watching with body weight and level of fatness among children: results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA 1998; 279: 938–42.

79M Fogelholm , O Nuutinen , M Pasanen , E Myöhänen , T Säätelä . Parent-child relationship of physical activity patterns and obesity. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1999; 23: 1262–8.

81E Duran-Tauleria , RJ Rona , S Chinn . Factors associated with weight for height and skinfold thickness in British children. J. Epidemiol. Community Health 1995; 49: 466–73.

83SM Keiller , JR Colley , RG Carpenter . Obesity in school-children and their parents. Ann. Hum. Biol. 1979; 6: 443–55.

85RJ Rona , S Chinn . National study of health and growth: social and family factors and obesity in primary schoolchildren. Ann. Hum. Biol. 1982; 9: 131–45.

91M De Spiegelaere , M Dramaix , P Hennart . The influence of socioeconomic status on the incidence and evolution of obesity during early adolescence. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 1998; 22: 268–74.

92R Hardy , M Wadsworth , D Kuh . The influence of childhood weight and socioeconomic status on change in adult body mass index in a British national birth cohort. Int. J. Obes. Relat. Metab. Disord. 2000; 24: 725–34.

94AJ Stunkard , TIA Sorensen , C Hanis , TW Teasdale , R Chakra-borty , WJ Schull , F Schülsinger . An adoption study of human obesity. N. Eng. J. Med. 1986; 314: 193–8.

Recommend this journal

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

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *