How Good Are Children Trying To Lose Weight

Are Children trying to lose weight? This may be true if one looks at the new study from Oxford University that says that over a quarter (26.5 per cent) of children tried to lose weight between 2015 and 2016, a five per cent increase over 1997 and 1998.

In the study published on July 21, the Oxford University said that the largest increases in weight loss attempts were seen in boys, older children, Asian children, and children from lower income households.


In the study, the researchers examined data from over 34,000 children aged 8-17 who participated in the Health Survey for England (HSE) from 1997-2016. Using the data, the researchers tracked how common weight loss attempts were across several socio-demographic characteristics, including age, gender, weight status, ethnicity, and household income.


Meanwhile, registered Dietitian and Doctoral student at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford Melissa Little said: “There’s been a steady rise in the number of children with overweight or obesity in England over the past decades amongst children and young people. However, we don’t know much about the numbers or characteristics of those children who may be attempting to lose it. So, for this study, we wanted to see if there were any trends or changes in the prevalence of weight loss attempts amongst 8- to 17-year-old children.” Co-lead author and researcher from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford Dr Aryati Ahmad opined that they saw that the number of children reporting weight loss attempts was growing at a faster rate than the rise in excess weight.

“Alarmingly, the data also showed that an increasing proportion of children with a ‘healthy’ weight also reported trying to lose it. This raises concerns and suggests greater attention is needed to target weight control messages appropriately,” Aryati Ahmad said.

Another co-lead author Dr Carmen Piernas (University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences) said: ‘We found that children were more likely to attempt to lose weight if they were heavy or obese, female, from an ethnic minority group or living in a low-income household. However, obese loss attempts increased across all BMI categories, and especially among boys, older children, children of Asian ethnicity, and those from lower income families.”

The researchers suggest one possible explanation for the observed increase in weight loss attempts was the introduction of providing individual level feedback on weight by the National Child Measurement Programme between 2010 and 2011.

The authors also note that further research is necessary to understand the drivers of weight loss attempts among young people with a healthy mechankism to reduce their occurrence. Policies and programmes to tackle heavy and obesity in young people will need to be sensitive to the risk of encouraging inappropriate control practices.


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