There have been previous representative nutritional status surveys conducted in Hungary, but this is the first one that examines overweight and obesity prevalence according to the level of urbanization and in different geographic regions among 6–8-year-old children. We also assessed whether these variations were different by sex.
This survey was part of the fourth data collection round of World Health Organization (WHO) Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative which took place during the academic year 2016/2017. The representative sample was determined by two-stage cluster sampling. A total of 5332 children (48.4% boys; age 7.54 ± 0.64 years) were measured from all seven geographic regions including urban (at least 500 inhabitants per square kilometer; n = 1598), semi-urban (100 to 500 inhabitants per square kilometer; n = 1932) and rural (less than 100 inhabitants per square kilometer; n = 1802) areas.
Using the WHO reference, prevalence of overweight and obesity within the whole sample were 14.2, and 12.7%, respectively. According to the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) reference, rates were 12.6 and 8.6%. Northern Hungary and Southern Transdanubia were the regions with the highest obesity prevalence of 11.0 and 12.0%, while Central Hungary was the one with the lowest obesity rate (6.1%). The prevalence of overweight and obesity tended to be higher in rural areas (13.0 and 9.8%) than in urban areas (11.9 and 7.0%). Concerning differences in sex, girls had higher obesity risk in rural areas (OR = 2.0) but boys did not. Odds ratios were 2.0–3.4 in different regions for obesity compared to Central Hungary, but only among boys.
Overweight and obesity are emerging problems in Hungary. Remarkable differences were observed in the prevalence of obesity by geographic regions. These variations can only be partly explained by geographic characteristics.
Study protocol was approved by the Scientific and Research Ethics Committee of the Medical Research Council (61158–2/2016/EKU).