Prevalence, trends and risk factors of thinness among Greek children and adolescents


Risk factors


Introduction: Thinness affects more children and adolescents than obesity. Thus, the aim of the study is to present the recent estimates of thinness, the secular trend prevalence and associated risk factors, in Greek schoolchildren.

Methods: Epidemiological study. Population data from the recent estimates are derived from a school-based health survey polled in 2015 on 336,014 participants aged 4- to 17-year-old. Secular trend (1996-2015) participants included a total of 300,104 children aged 8- to 9-year-old. Physical activity, dietary habits and sedentary activities were assessed through self-completed questionnaires. The gender and age-specific body mass index cut-off points proposed by International Obesity Task Force were used in order to define weight groups.

Results: Percent 8.4 % of girls and 6.5% of boys were thin (all grades included). The prevalence of thinness decreased with age more in boys (from 13.8% at 4-year-old to 5.1% at 17-year-old, p < 0.001), than in girls (from 10.9% at 4-year-old to 8.7% at 17-year-old, p<0.001). Sufficient dietary habits (OR: 0.87, 95%CI: 0.77-0.97) and adequate physical activity levels (OR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.85-0.99) associated with decreased risk of thinness. Thin schoolchildren performed better in aerobic fitness test than normalweight ones. Between 1996 and 2015, thinness rates decreased from 8.0% to 6.5% in boys (p = 0.046) and from 10.6% to 8.4% in girls (p = 0.036).

Conclusions: Thinness is an overlooked phenomenon, which prevalence rates seem to decrease in Greece. Actions need to be taken from public policy makers in order to establish and maintain a healthy body weight in schoolchildren.