Original article

International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 54, Supplement 2, pp 167-179

First online:

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 HaugAffiliated withResearch Centre for Health Promotion, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen
  • , Mette RasmussenAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen
  • , Oddrun SamdalAffiliated withResearch Centre for Health Promotion, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen
  • , Ron IannottiAffiliated withPrevention Research Branch, Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • , Colette KellyAffiliated withHealth Promotion Research Centre, Department of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland
  • , Alberto BorraccinoAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, University of Turin
  • , Carine VereeckenAffiliated withFWO-Flanders, Department of Public Health, Ghent University
  • , Ole MelkevikAffiliated withResearch Centre for Health Promotion, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen
  • , Giacomo LazzeriAffiliated withPublic Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Siena
    • , Mariano GiacchiAffiliated withPublic Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Siena
    • , Oya ErcanAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty, Istanbul University
    • , Pernille DueAffiliated withNational Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark
    • , Ulrike Ravens-SiebererAffiliated withCenter for Obstetrics and Pediatrics, Department of Psychosomatics in Children and Adolescents, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
    • , Candace CurrieAffiliated withChild and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU), The Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh
    • , Antony MorganAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute
    • , Namanjeet AhluwaliaAffiliated withINSERM U558, Epidemiology & Public Health Analyses, Faculté de Médicine, Paul Sabatier University Email author 
    • , the HBSC Obesity Writing Group

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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 children Overweight prevalence Eating patterns Physical activity Sedentary behaviours