The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish children between 1990 and 2019
A. O'Donnell; M. Buffini; L. Kehoe; A. Nugent; J. Kearney; J. Walton; A. Flynn; B. McNulty
Year of publication
Public Health Nutr
OBJECTIVE: The present study aimed to examine the temporal prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish children through different methodologies and evaluate the change in rates between 1990 and 2019. DESIGN: Anthropometric data from three Irish national food consumption surveys were used to examine the change in the prevalence of BMI and waist circumference-derived overweight and obesity levels. SETTING: Three cross-sectional food consumption surveys from the Republic of Ireland: the Irish National Nutrition Survey (1990), the National Children's Food Survey (2005) and The Second National Children's Food Survey (2019). PARTICIPANTS: A demographically representative sample of Irish children aged 5-12 years: 1990 (n 148), 2005 (n 594) and 2019 (n 596). RESULTS: Twelve percentage of children had overweight/obesity in 1990, which was significantly higher in 2005 at 25 % and significantly lower in 2019 at 16 % (P = 0·003). In 2019, more girls had overweight/obesity in comparison with boys (19 v. 14 %), whilst children from the lowest social class group had the highest levels of overweight/obesity (P = 0·019). Overall, the proportion of children with abdominal overweight/obesity was significantly lower in 2019 in comparison with 2005 (P ≤ 0·001). CONCLUSIONS: Evidence from the most recent national survey suggests that overweight and obesity levels are plateauing and in some cases reducing in children in Ireland. Despite this, rates remain high, with the highest prevalence in 2019 observed in girls and in those from the lowest social class group. Thus, overweight/obesity prevention and intervention policies are necessary and should be continued.