Epidemiologia e Psichiatria Sociale

Original Papers

Epidemiology of overweight and obesity among Italian early adolescents: relation with physical activity and sedentary behaviour

Alessio Vienoa1 c1, Massimo Santinelloa1 and Maria Cristiana Martina2

a1 Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione, Università di Padova, Padova

a2 Dipartimento di Scienze Statistiche, Università di Padova, Padova


Aims – The prevalence of overweight and obesity and the role of possible related factors were analysed among Italian early adolescents. Method – The survey reported here is part of the larger “Health Behaviour in School Aged Children” (HBSC) trans-national study, which is co-ordinated by the European Office of the World Health Organization. The data were gathered through self-administered questionnaires filled out by a representative sample of 4,386 (48.4% males) Italian students (11-, 13- and 15-year old). Results – The overall prevalence is 16.7% for overweight and 2.5% for obesity. Boys are more at risk than girls for the two phenomena. Moreover, age group, mother's education, area of residence, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour show a significant association with both outcomes. Conclusion – Findings of the present study are in agreement with similar studies carried out on early adolescents population, showing that prevalence in overweight and obesity decreases during this phase and is more diffused among boys than girls. The prevalence of both diseases is higher in the South and Islands. Sedentary behaviour and physical activity are substantive factors which preventive interventions could act on.

Declaration of Interest: the HBSC study is partly funded by the University of Padova through a scholarship attributed to Dr. Alessio Vieno (Year 2001 – prot. CPDR013233).

(Received August 23 2004)

(Revised October 04 2004)

(Accepted November 03 2004)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr. A. Vieno Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione, Università di Padova, LIRIPAC, Via Belzoni 80, 35131 Padova (Italy). Fax: +39-049-827.8451 E-mail: alessio.vieno@unipd.it