Research news

Knowledge of intergenerational changes in being overweight and obese in children (Faculty of Sport )

Publish Date: 11.12.2020

Category: Outstanding research achievements, Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 3 Good health and well-being, 8 Decent work and economic growth (Indicators)

Based on thirty years of monitoring of Slovenian youth, the researchers at the Faculty of Sport of the University of Ljubljana identified a halt to the trend of being overweight and obese before the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Obesity in children has been linked to both short- and long-term adverse health outcomes. Moreover, childhood obesity tracks well into adulthood, and leads to risks of premature mortality. Childhood obesity increased dramatically over the last few decades of the twentieth century, especially in developed countries Since then childhood obesity has been recognised as public health priority, as a result of which various preventive strategies are being implemented worldwide.

Despite such efforts, no country had previously presented reliable evidence on the achievement of a reversal of this trend, but the researchers of the Faculty of Sport at the University of Ljubljana were the first to do so on the basis of the SLOfit data (Research Fellow Dr. Maroje Sorić, Prof. Gregor Jurak, Asist. Saša Đurić, Prof. Marjeta Kovač, Prof. Janko Strel and Assoc. Prof. Gregor Starc). On the basis of 6,738,510 data points collected in a thirty-year period of measuring the body mass of Slovenian children and adolescents in the period 1989–2018, they examined the prevalence of being overweight and obese in three age groups (7–10, 11–14 and 15–18 years).

They found that obesity almost tripled between 1989 and 2009, while the incidence of being overweight doubled in both sexes, but during the last decade this trend was reversed or at least stopped. This reversal of the trend was more pronounced in boys than in girls, and in young children compared to adolescents.

The perceived trends are least favourable for adolescents, especially female adolescents with the still growing trend of being overweight and obese indicating a need for interventions tailored specifically to these groups. Despite a noticeable reduction in being overweight and obese among Slovenian children and adolescents, both rates are still very high. The existing efforts to combat obesity should therefore continue with unabated intensity. The results are published in the seventh most-cited journal in the world, Scientific Reports – Nature, with an impact factor of 4.576.

Source: SORIĆ, Maroje, JURAK, Gregor, ĐURIĆ, Saša, KOVAČ, Marjeta, STREL, Janko, STARC, Gregor. Increasing trends in childhood overweight have mostly reversed: 30 years of continuous surveillance of Slovenian youth. Scientific reports, ISSN 2045-2322, 3. Jul. 2020, vol. 10, article no. 11022, str. 1–8, ilustr. epdf?sharing_token=gMTtUKi47j8Ry6s86Cqsf9RgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0MaNa_8Qc64WJ7troUHlHY6CNqvAfhtXzT9n758unRW0cjQRLXjCLiHM5Rh6YnMn8khj3siyLC-BAwKM kVnoPcmYrfQjzF94FkDqNfJwSLsCp_Hv88XHSFBeL0J6WrzLbc%3D,, doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-68102-2.

prehrenjenost otrok

Time trends in the prevalence of overweight, obesity and severe obesity between 1989 and 2018 depicted by sex, across three age groups: 7–10 years, 11–14 years and 15–18 years. Numbers in the keys denote annual percent increase – APC (95-percent confidence interval) over a specific period. Illustration: Saša Đurić



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