Background The aim was to examine the 1995–2007 childhood and adolescent obesity trends and project prevalence to 2015 by age group and social class.
Methods Participants were children aged 2–10 and adolescents aged 11–18 years from general population households in England studied using repeated cross-sectional surveys. Obesity was computed using international standards. Prevalence projections to 2015 were based on extrapolation of linear and non-linear trends.
Results Obesity prevalence increased from 1995 to 2007 from 3.1% to 6.9% among boys, and 5.2% to 7.4% among girls. There are signs of a levelling off trend past 2004/5. Assuming a linear trend, the 2015 projected obesity prevalence is 10.1% (95% CI 7.5 to 12.6) in boys and 8.9% (5.8 to 12.1) in girls, and 8.0% (4.5, 11.5) in male and 9.7% (6.0, 13.3) in female adolescents. Projected prevalence in manual social classes is markedly higher than in non-manual classes [boys: 10.7% (6.6 to 14.9) vs 7.9% (3.7 to 12.1); girls: 11.2% (7.0 to 15.3) vs 5.4% (1.3 to 9.4); male adolescents: 10.0% (5.2 to 14.8) vs 6.7% (3.4 to 10.0); female adolescents: 10.4% (5.0 to 15.8) vs 8.3% (4.3 to 12.4)].
Conclusion If the trends in young obesity continue, the percentage and numbers of obese young people in England will increase considerably by 2015 and the existing obesity gap between manual and non-manual classes will widen further. This highlights the need for public health action to reverse recent trends and narrow social inequalities in health.
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