Date: 06 Oct 2013

Tracking of weight status and body fatness in Italian children

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The prevalence of weight disorders among school-aged children is an increasing phenomenon and it is of great importance to identify the characteristics of individuals at risk of gaining or retaining weight. This study aimed to examine the prevalence of weight disorders and their tracking over a 3-year period in a sample of Italian children. Body mass, body height and selected skinfold thicknesses were assessed in 355 children at the age of 7 and 10 years. Tracking of body mass index (BMI), inverted BMI (iBMI) and skinfold-based body fat were analyzed and the relationships between changes in BMI and body fat were examined. Children presenting with overweight or obesity at 7 years old showed a trend toward lower weight categories at 10 years old. Conversely, a trend to become overweight was observed among normal weight boys, and a trend to become underweight was observed among normal weight girls. BMI, iBMI and body fat showed good levels of tracking, with high correlations between measurements performed at 7 and 10 years of age. Furthermore, BMI and iBMI changes were correlated to body fatness changes. The present study shows the importance of carefully following children’s development over time because weight disorders may appear even in previously normal weight children.