Researchers at Uppsala University carried out studies on 540 children in the Uppsala area. The children, aged four, ten and sixteen, were compared with an equivalent group of children in 1982.
“Despite the fact that their parents were well-educated – a factor related to lower childhood obesity – the respective groups of children, particularly girls, had become considerably more overweight over a period of twenty years,” said researcher Ulf Holmbäck in a statement.
The development is worrying, in that overweight children run a higher risk of contracting diabetes or cardiovascular illnesses.
The number of overweight four-year-old girls increased by one to six percent over the period. There were however fewer overweight boys in 2002 (1%) than in 1982 (2%).
The body mass index (BMI) of ten-year-old girls had increased by 13 percent, while that of boys had jumped by 5 percent.
The weight develpoment of 16-year-olds was more stable, which seems to suggest that children’s weight changes have occurred relatively recently.
The results of the study have been pubished in the April edition of Acta Paediatrica.