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Ethnic group differences in overweight and obese children and young people in England: cross sectional survey
  1. S Saxena1,
  2. G Ambler2,
  3. T J Cole3,
  4. A Majeed1
  1. 1Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College London, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK
  2. 2Medical Statistics Unit, Research & Development Directorate, UCLH NHS Trust, London NW1 2LT, UK
  3. 3Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr S Saxena
    Lecturer in Primary Care, Research & Development Directorate, UCLH NHS Trust, 112 Hampstead Road, London NW1 2LT, UK;


Aims: To determine the percentage of children and young adults who are obese or overweight within different ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

Methods: Secondary analysis of data on 5689 children and young adults aged 2–20 years from the 1999 Health Survey for England.

Results: Twenty three per cent of children (n = 1311) were overweight, of whom 6% (n = 358) were obese. More girls than boys were overweight (24% v 22%). Afro-Caribbean girls were more likely to be overweight (odds ratio 1.73, 95% CI 1.29 to 2.33), and Afro-Caribbean and Pakistani girls were more likely to be obese than girls in the general population (odds ratios 2.74 (95% CI 1.74 to 4.31) and 1.71 (95% CI 1.06 to 2.76), respectively). Indian and Pakistani boys were more likely to be overweight (odds ratios 1.55 (95% CI 1.12 to 2.17) and 1.36 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.83), respectively). There were no significant differences in the prevalence of obese and overweight children from different social classes.

Conclusion: The percentage of children and young adults who are obese and overweight differs by ethnic group and sex, but not by social class. British Afro-Caribbean and Pakistani girls have an increased risk of being obese and Indian and Pakistani boys have an increased risk of being overweight than the general population. These individuals may be at greater combined cumulative risk of morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease and so may be a priority for initiatives to target groups of children at particular risk of obesity.

  • obesity
  • overweight
  • ethnic group
  • socioeconomic status
  • health survey
  • England
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  • The Health Survey for England is funded by the Department of Health and carried out jointly with the National Centre for Social Surveys and Research and University College London. Dr Sonia Saxena holds a National Primary Care Researcher Development Award and Professor Azeem Majeed holds a National Primary Care Career Scientist Award from the NHS R&D Capacity Development Programme

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