Objective: To determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish children using four different weight-for-height methods and to examine secular trends from previous national data.
Design: A cross-sectional survey. Weight and height were measured according to standard procedures and used to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity using four weight-for-height methods of assessment, actual relative weight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention body mass index (BMI) for age charts for boys and girls, the BMI reference curves for the UK 1990 and the International Obesity Task Force age-and sex-specific BMI cutoffs.
Setting: The survey was carried out between 2003 and 2004 in the Republic of Ireland.
Subjects: Random representative sample of 596 children aged 5-12 years.
Results: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish children is high, but varies considerably with each method. The prevalence of obesity in boys ranged from 4.1 to 11.2 % and in girls from 9.3 to 16.3%. Between 1990 and 2005, depending on the method used, there was a two-to-fourfold increase in obesity in children aged 8-12 years.
Conclusion: It is evident given the variation displayed in the prevalence of obesity when using the different methods, that there is a discernible need for a single definition to identify the obese child in Ireland. The findings show a high prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish school children and the increase in the prevalence of obesity over the last 15 years highlights this growing public health issue.