Santé et Services sociaux Québec.

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Child Obesity

Excess Weight in the Young

Data gathered as part of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec’s activities to monitor the population’s state of health have given us a profile of the weight of Quebeckers aged 2 to 17 years. These data also make it possible to monitor the prevalence of overweight and obesity among the different age groups of children by comparing them to self-declared or measured prevalences since 1978.

According to 2004 anthropometric data, more than one child in five has excess weight.1 More specifically, 15.5% of children and adolescents are overweight and 7.1% are obese. The figures are about the same in both categories for girls and boys.

It appears that the proportion of Québec children who are overweight increased by 55% over 25 years, from 14.6 %2 in 1978 to 22.6% in 2004. The more significant increase in obesity can account for this discrepancy. Québec fares better than the national average when comes to children who have excess weight according to 2004 statistics. Nevertheless, the proportion of obese children in Québec is not significantly different from that in the rest of Canada.

An in-depth analysis of the excess weight measured in Quebeckers aged 2 to 17 years in 2004 revealed variations in prevalence according to age group. Indeed, the data show that 27.3% of teenagers aged 12 to 14 years and 26.1% of toddlers aged 2 to 5 years were overweight or obese, compared to 18.4% of children aged 6 to 11 years.

The household’s socioeconomic status also appears to influence the prevalence of excess weight. Children aged 2 to 17 years living in high-income or more educated households are less likely to be overweight or obese than those in other households.

The changes in prevalence of excess weight over time in Québec children aged 2 to 17 years between 1978 and 2005 were studied using measured and self-declared anthropometric data. The self-declared data revealed that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in all age groups was stable during the study period. The measured anthropometric data also appear to demonstrate that, between 1999 and 2004, the prevalence of overweight and obesity remains stable for each age group between 6 and 17 years of age.

While the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Québec children is high, it appears to be stabilizing. Nevertheless, data from other sources in the next few years are required to confirm these observations.

1The term “excess weight” combines both overweight and obesity for children.
2The estimate is significantly inaccurate and must be interpreted with caution.

Source: P. Lamontagne and D. Hamel. Le poids corporel chez les enfants et adolescents du Québec : de 1978 à 2005, Institut national de santé publique du Québec, 2009.