Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 353–356 | Cite as

Obesity Rates Among Rural Ontario Schoolchildren

  • Tracey Galloway



The majority of existing studies of obesity risk among Canadian children come from urban populations. The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of obesity in a sample of rural Ontario children.


Measures of height and weight were obtained for 504 children attending seven public elementary schools in Grey and Bruce Counties, a predominantly rural area of Southern Ontario. Body mass index (BMI, or weight/height²) scores were calculated and compared with reference data from the Centers for Disease Control.1


Rates of overweight and obesity were high in this sample, with 17.7% of children classified as overweight and 10.9% classified as obese. There was a significantly high prevalence of overweight for both boys (17.8%) and girls (17.5%) (Chi-square=75.70, p<0.001). However there was a significant gender difference in obesity prevalence: 15.0% of boys were obese, compared with 6.8% of girls (Mann-Whitney U=29133.0, p>0.05).


Findings indicate that among rural children–particularly boys–risk of overweight and obesity are at least as high as in their urban Canadian counterparts. There appear to be fewer girls than boys at the extreme high end of the distribution of BMI, which may indicate differences in the growth environment of rural boys and girls.

MeSH terms

Child obesity overweight body mass index child health rural health 



La majorité des études existantes sur les risques d’obésité chez les enfants canadiens concernent des populations urbaines. Notre étude visait à évaluer la prévalence de l’obésité au sein d’un échantillon d’enfants vivant en milieu rural en Ontario.


Nous avons obtenu les mesures de la taille et du poids de 504 élèves de sept écoles élémentaires publiques des comtés de Grey et de Bruce, une région à dominante rurale du Sud de l’Ontario. Nous avons calculé leurs indices de masse corporelle (IMC, ou poids/taille²), que nous avons ensuite comparés aux données de référence des Centres américains de contrôle des maladies1.


Les taux d’embonpoint et d’obésité étaient élevés dans notre échantillon: 17,7 % des enfants faisaient de l’embonpoint, et 10,9 % étaient obèses. La prévalence de l’embonpoint était significativement élevée tant chez les garçons (17,8 %) que chez les filles (17,5 %) (Khi-carré = 75,70; p<0,001). La prévalence de l’obésité, cependant, affichait une différence importante selon le sexe: 15 % des garçons étaient obèses, contre 6,8 % des filles (test U de Mann-Whitney = 29 133,0; p>0,05).


Nous constatons que chez les enfants vivant en milieu rural, tout particulièrement les garçons, les risques d’embonpoint et d’obésité sont au moins aussi élevés que chez les enfants canadiens vivant en milieu urbain. Les filles semblent être moins nombreuses que les garçons à afficher un IMC très élevé, ce qui pourrait s’expliquer par des écarts dans l’environnement de croissance des garçons et des filles en milieu rural.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Sciences ProgramUniversity of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada

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