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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Family-related risk factors of obesity among preschool children: results from a series of national epidemiological surveys in China

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Xin-Nan Zong, Hui Li, Ya-Qin Zhang
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

Conceived and designed the surveys: HL. Analyzed the data and wrote the first draft: XNZ. Interpreted and discussed the results: XNZ, HL, YQZ. All authors read and approved the final version.

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Family-based child obesity prevention and control strategy has not yet established in many countries or regions, including China, thus what it needs to do now is to continuously develop and improve the strategies. The purpose of this study were to describe a wider spectrum of risk factors of obesity among preschool children and add to the mounting evidence for further improving suggested intervention measures in future family-based programs.


Data was collected as part of a series of national epidemiological surveys in childhood conducted in 9 Chinese cities. A population-based, 1:1 matched case–control design was employed to examine risk factors of obesity by means of conditional logistic regression. Obesity was defined as the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) BMI-for-age cut offs. Eligible subjects were 1234 boys and 610 girls aged 3–7 years in 1996 and 2290 boys and 1008 girls in 2006, including obese and non-obese.


High birth weight, gestational hypertension and parents’ BMI were closely associated with childhood obesity. Breast feeding in the first 4 months was a protective factor in univariate model in 2006 (OR = 0.834, P = 0.0234), but the association was not seen in multivariate. Appetite, eating speed, daily time and intensity for outdoor activities, night sleep time, and time for TV viewing were identified statistically by multivariate model. Those children brought up in extended family or mainly raised by their grandparents or lived in high income or low education families might have an increased risk of becoming obese. Parents’ attitudes on weight control of their children significantly differed between obese and non-obese groups.


A wider spectrum of risk factors and an empirical aggregation of family-related risk factors are discussed to further improve future family-based child obesity prevention and control strategies. Most of the risk factors identified by this study presented ranked or quantitative characteristics which might be transformed from unhealthy threshold to healthy range by behavior modification. Some variables are likely to interact each other, such as appetite and eating speed, or outdoor activity and TV viewing, or BMI and income, but which needs to be further explored in future surveys.


The family-related risk factors were summarized from our identified risk factors of obesity among preschool children which strongly supported the further development of family-based programs in preschool period.
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