JOURNAL ARTICLE

Obesity, fitness and health in Taiwanese children and adolescents

L J Chen, K R Fox, A Haase, J M Wang
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006, 60 (12): 1367-75
16775581

OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity in Taiwan and investigate the association between excess weight and physical fitness and blood pressure.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SUBJECTS: A total of 13 935 children and adolescents aged 6-18 years (boys: 7031, girls: 6904) were involved in the 1999 survey and 24 586 (boys: 12 367, girls: 12 219) were available in the 2001 survey.

MEASUREMENTS: Weight, height, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and health-related fitness tests (bent-leg curl-ups, sit-and-reach test and step test) were measured.

RESULTS: The overall prevalence of obesity (including overweight) in boys was 19.8% in 1999 and 26.8% in 2001. It was lower in girls with 15.2% in 1999 and 16.5% in 2001. The normal weight group performed better (P<0.05) than the overweight/obese group in all fitness tests except in the 2001 sit-and-reach test where there were no differences between the two groups. The risk of hypertension increased nearly two times for the overweight/obese-fit group and nearly three times for the overweight/obese-unfit group compared to the normal weight-fit group (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=1.93, 95%CI=1.514-2.451 and AOR=2.93, 95%CI=2.493-3.454, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Overall, the findings demonstrated that there is an increasing trend in overweight/obesity prevalence for Taiwanese youth even in a 2-year period. The overweight/obese youngsters tend to have poorer muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance than the normal weight group. The overweight/obese and unfit group had a greater risk of hypertension than other groups. However, this risk was significantly lower if obese/overweight children had a higher than average level of cardiovascular fitness.

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