International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 54, Supplement 2, pp 167–179

Overweight in school-aged children and its relationship with demographic and lifestyle factors: results from the WHO-Collaborative Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study


  • Ellen Haug
    • Research Centre for Health Promotion, Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of Bergen
  • Mette Rasmussen
    • Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Copenhagen
  • Oddrun Samdal
    • Research Centre for Health Promotion, Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of Bergen
  • Ron Iannotti
    • Prevention Research Branch, Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention ResearchEunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • Colette Kelly
    • Health Promotion Research Centre, Department of Health PromotionNational University of Ireland
  • Alberto Borraccino
    • Department of Public HealthUniversity of Turin
  • Carine Vereecken
    • FWO-Flanders, Department of Public HealthGhent University
  • Ole Melkevik
    • Research Centre for Health Promotion, Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of Bergen
  • Giacomo Lazzeri
    • Public Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Siena
  • Mariano Giacchi
    • Public Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Siena
  • Oya Ercan
    • Department of Pediatrics, Cerrahpasa Medical FacultyIstanbul University
  • Pernille Due
    • National Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern Denmark
  • Ulrike Ravens-Sieberer
    • Center for Obstetrics and Pediatrics, Department of Psychosomatics in Children and AdolescentsUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
  • Candace Currie
    • Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU), The Moray House School of EducationUniversity of Edinburgh
  • Antony Morgan
    • Department of Public Health SciencesKarolinska Institute
    • INSERM U558, Epidemiology & Public Health Analyses, Faculté de MédicinePaul Sabatier University
  • the HBSC Obesity Writing Group
Original article

DOI: 10.1007/s00038-009-5408-6

Cite this article as:
Haug, E., Rasmussen, M., Samdal, O. et al. Int J Public Health (2009) 54: 167. doi:10.1007/s00038-009-5408-6



To examine overweight prevalence and its association with demographic and lifestyle factors in 11–15 year olds in the HBSC 2005–2006 survey.


Self-reports of height, weight, eating patterns, physical activity and sedentary behaviours were obtained from nationally representative samples in 41 countries (n=204,534).


Overweight prevalence was highest in USA (28.8 %) and lowest in Latvia (7.6 %). In most countries, overweight was more prevalent in boys than girls. Overweight was consistently negatively associated with breakfast consumption and moderate to vigorous physical activity; OR range: 0.48–0.79 and 0.50–0.78, respectively.


Overweight prevalence in youth remained high across the countries examined. The primary factors linked to overweight were breakfast consumption and physical activity. These data should contribute to formulating preventive programs and policies.


School childrenOverweight prevalenceEating patternsPhysical activitySedentary behaviours

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009