Public Health Nutrition

Hot topic – Childhood Obesity

Prevalence and factors associated with overweight and obesity in French primary-school children

Hélène Thibaulta1a2 c1, Caroline Carrierea1a2, Coralie Langevina1a2, Edouard Kossi Détia1, Pascale Barberger-Gateaua2 and Sylvie Mauricea1

a1 Univ. Bordeaux, ISPED, Centre INSERM U897-Epidemiologie-Biostatistique, F-33000 Bordeaux, France

a2 INSERM, ISPED, Centre INSERM U897-Epidemiologie-Biostatistique, Bordeaux, France


Objective To determine the prevalence of, and identify associated factors with, overweight and obesity in two samples of French children.

Design We conducted two cross-sectional studies among two samples of children. Weight status, eating behaviour, sedentary activity, physical activity and parents’ socio-economic status (SES) were collected using questionnaires filled by doctors during school health check-ups. Overweight and obesity were defined according to the age- and sex-specific BMI cut-off points of the International Obesity Taskforce. Multivariate analysis (logistic regression) was used to identify independent factors associated with overweight including obesity and obesity alone.

Setting Aquitaine region (south-west France).

Subjects Analyses were conducted among children aged 5–7 years (n 4048) and 7–11 years (n 3619).

Results Overweight prevalence was 9·5 % including 2·2 % of obesity in 5–7-year-old children and 15·6 % including 2·9 % of obesity in 7–11-year-old children. In both samples, overweight and obesity prevalence were higher in children whose parents had low or medium SES (P < 0·05). Factors associated significantly (P < 0·05) and independently with higher overweight or obesity prevalence were female gender, low or medium parental SES, never or sometimes having breakfast, never eating at the school canteen, never having a morning snack, never or sometimes having a light afternoon meal and having high sedentary activity.

Conclusions Our data confirm that low SES, absence of breakfast and high sedentary activity are associated with a higher risk of being overweight or obese, but also highlight original potential protective factors such as eating at the canteen and high meal frequency.

(Received January 13 2012)

(Revised April 20 2012)

(Accepted May 23 2012)

(Online publication September 07 2012)


  • Children;
  • Overweight;
  • Obesity;
  • Prevalence;
  • Risk factors


c1 Corresponding author: Email