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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence and association between obesity and metabolic syndrome among Chinese elementary school children: a school-based survey

WeiJia Liu12, Rong Lin2, AiLing Liu3, Lin Du2* and Qing Chen1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China

2 Department of School Health, Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Zhongshan 3rd, Guangzhou 510080, China

3 National Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Nanwei Road, Beijing 100050, China

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:780  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-780

Published: 22 December 2010



China has experienced an increase in the prevalence of childhood overweight/obesity over the last decades. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome among Chinese school children and determine if there is a significant association between childhood obesity and metabolic syndrome.


A cross-sectional study was conducted among 1844 children (938 males and 906 females) in six elementary schools at Guangzhou city from April to June 2009. The body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure, Tanner stage, lipids, insulin and glucose levels were determined. Criteria analogous to ATPIII were used for diagnosis of metabolic syndrome in children.


Among 1844 children aged 7-14 years, 205 (11.1%) were overweight, and 133 (7.2%) were obese. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 6.6% overall, 33.1% in obese, 20.5% in overweight and 2.3% in normal weight children. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that BMI (3rd quartile)(OR 3.28; 95%CI 0.35-30.56), BMI (4th quartile)(OR 17.98; 95%CI 1.75-184.34), homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) (2nd quartile) (OR2.36; 95% CI 0.46-12.09), HOMA-IR (3rd quartile) (OR 2.46; 95% CI 0.48-12.66), HOMA-IR (4th quartile) (OR3.87; 95% CI 0.72-20.71) were significantly associated with metabolic syndrome.


The current epidemic of obesity with subsequent increasing cardiovascular risk factors has constituted a threat to the health of school children in China. HOMA-IR and BMI were strong predictors of metabolic syndrome in children. Therefore, rigorous obesity prevention programs should be implemented among them.