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Free Content Overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, up to age 14

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Background: The aims of this work are threefold: (1) Show the pathway of overweight and obesity, for the current generation of adolescents, since early childhood in the UK. (2) Identify factors associated with the risk of overweight/obesity at age 14. (3) Study transitions into and out of overweight/obesity, from early adolescence to mid-adolescence.

Methods: A sample of 10,825 children in the UK Millennium Cohort Study was selected for analysis. BMI was calculated using measured height and weight available at every sweep since age three, and overweight and obesity were defined using the IOTF classification. Possible factors associated with the risk of excess weight include socio-demographic characteristics, early life circumstances, and behavioural and lifestyle factors in adolescence.

Results: 19.2% of the sample of 14-year-olds in 2015/16 is classified as overweight (95% CI 18.4–20.0), and 7.5% as obese (95% CI 7.0–7.9), with proportions very similar across sexes. Protective factors for excess weight include high maternal education, breastfeeding, home ownership and child's active behaviour. The likelihood of transiting out of excess weight/ obesity between ages 11 and 14 is higher than the likelihood of transiting in. Predictors of transiting out of excess weight/obesity include child's active behaviour and puberty onset by age 14.

Conclusions: This study provides new evidence that the profile of rising trends in excess weight observed during childhood had stabilised by mid-adolescence. However, rates of excess weight remain high, and overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence remain a major public health concern. The study identifies some risk and protective factors to reinforce the government commitment to reducing excess weight in childhood.
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Keywords: ADOLESCENCE; MILLENNIUM COHORT STUDY; OBESITY; OVERWEIGHT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2019

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  • Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (LLCS) is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the needs of researchers studying the life course and using longitudinal methods at the interfaces of social, developmental and health sciences. It fosters cross-disciplinary and international endeavours and promotes the creation and exploitation of longitudinal data resources as well as their application to policy issues. As the journal of the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (SLLS) it provides an opportunity for scholars at all stages of their careers to publish work crossing disciplinary boundaries which is often beyond the scope of more conventional, single-field journals.

    Longitudinal research involves the follow up of individuals, households, communities or other groups over time. Life course study focuses on the influences that shape holistic pathways from conception to adult life and old age. LLCS brings together the broad range of specialist interests in an international, multi-disciplinary, multi-method framework.

    The Editors welcome submissions which report on research or methodological development, in one or more of these fields and from a spectrum of disciplinary approaches: sociological (quantitative and qualitative), demographic, economic, geographic, historical, psychological and behavioural, epidemiological and statistical. Typically papers deal with individual data in several domains (for example physical or mental health, education, housing, employment) as they change over time, and set in their life course and policy context. International comparisons are encouraged within papers and can be made between them.

    In addition to carrying research articles, the Journal specialises in publishing study profiles introducing particular longitudinal studies to scientific and policy users and the designers and managers of other studies It explores new forms of longitudinal data collection, including the exploitation of administrative sources. Occasionally, it also publishes edited debates and invited pieces about the research-policy interface, keynote addresses at SLLS conferences, and reviews of books of special relevance to our readership. The Editors seek to ensure that all research reporting is accessible to the journal's multi-disciplinary readership and encourage comparisons and collaborations between countries and studies. We are especially eager to showcase findings from parts of the world where longitudinal studies are increasingly being established, such as East Asia, Africa and South America. LLCS strives to maintain the highest quality in accepted papers through double-blind peer review, drawing on an international as well as interdisciplinary network of editors and reviewers.

    Back issues of Longitudinal and Life Course Studies are available via the PKP Platform.

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