Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Child Fitness and Father’s BMI Are Important Factors in Childhood Obesity: A School Based Cross-Sectional Study

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posted on 2022-12-05, 15:28 authored by Sinead Brophy, Anwen Rees

 Background:This study examines obesity and factors associated with obesity in children aged 11–13 years in the UK.Methods:1147 children from ten secondary schools participated in a health survey that included blood samples, fitness testand anthropometric measures. Factors associated with obesity were examined using multilevel logistic regression.Findings:Of the children examined (490 male; 657 female) a third were overweight, 1 in 6 had elevated blood pressure,more than 1 in 10 had high cholesterol, 58% consumed more fat than recommended, whilst 37% were classified as unfit.Children in deprived areas had a higher proportion of risk factors; for example, they had higher blood pressure (20%(deprived) compared to 11% (non-deprived), difference: 9.0% (95%CI: 4.7%–13.4%)). Obesity is associated with risk factorsfor heart disease and diabetes.Maintaining fitness is associated with a reduction in the risk factors for heart disease (highblood pressure and cholesterol) but not on risk factors for diabetes (insulin levels). In order of importance, the main riskfactors for childhood obesity are being unfit, having an obese father, and being large at birth.Conclusion:The high proportion of children with risk factors suggests future interventions need to focus on communityand policy change to shift the population norm rather than targeting the behaviour of high risk individuals. Interventionsneed to focus on mothers’ lifestyle in pregnancy, fathers’ health, as well as promoting fitness among children. Obesity wasnot associated with deprivation. Therefore, strategies should be adopted in both deprived and non deprived areas. 


This study was funded by the Welsh Assembly Government through the National Institute of Social Care and Health Research. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.


Published in

PLoS One


Public Library of Science


  • VoR (Version of Record)


Brophy S, Rees A, Knox G, Baker J, Thomas NE (2012) Child Fitness and Father’s BMI Are Important Factors in Childhood Obesity: A School Based Cross-Sectional Study. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36597.

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

Cardiff Met Authors

Anwen Rees

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  • © The Authors


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