Current data in Greek children indicate decreasing trends of obesity in the transition from childhood to adolescence; results from the EYZHN (National Action for Children’s Health) program


Introduction: The aim of the study was to present the most recent estimates of obesity (total and central) prevalence in Greek children and risk factors associated with.  

Methods: Population data derived from a yearly, school-based health survey carried out in 2015 on 336,014 (51% boys) children aged 4 to 17 years old from almost 40% of all schools of primary and secondary education in Greece. Anthropometric and physical fitness measurements were obtained by trained investigators. Dietary habits, physical activity status, sedentary activities and sleeping hours were assessed through self-completed questionnaires. The gender and age specific Body Mass Index (BMI) cut-off points were used in order to define BMI groups.

Results: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the whole population was 22.2% and 9.0% in boys and 21.6% and 7.5% in girls, respectively. Obesity presented decreasing trends in the transition from childhood to adolescence. Central obesity was diagnosed in 95.3% and 93.5% of the simple obese boys and girls, respectively, in almost two to three of overweight children (68.6% of boys and 64.3% of girls), and in 12% of normal weight children. Age, physical fitness, low adherence to Mediterranean diet, insufficient sleeping hours, inadequate physical activity levels and increased screen time were all associated with higher odds of total and central obesity.

Conclusions: Serious and urgent actions need to be taken from public health policy makers in order not only to prevent a further increase in obesity rates but, more important, to treat obesity and/or the obesity associated co-morbidities.