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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Secular changes in height, weight and body mass index in Hong Kong Children

Hung-Kwan So1, Edmund AS Nelson1*, Albert M Li1, Eric MC Wong2, Joseph TF Lau2, Georgia S Guldan3, Kwok-Hang Mak4, Youfa Wang5, Tai-Fai Fok1 and Rita YT Sung1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Paediatrics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, PR China

2 Centre for Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, PR China

3 Department of Biochemistry and Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, PR China

4 Student Health Service, Department of Health, Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, PR China

5 Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:320  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-320

Published: 21 September 2008

Abstract

Background

Large population growth surveys of children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 y were undertaken in Hong Kong in 1963 and 1993. The global epidemic of obesity is a major public health concern. To monitor the impact of this epidemic in Hong Kong children and to identify secular changes in growth, a further growth survey was undertaken in 2005/6.

Methods

Cross-sectional height and weight measurements of 14,842 children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 y from Hong Kong's 18 districts were obtained during the 2005/6 school year. Percentile curves were constructed using LMS method and sex-specific percentile values of weight-for-age, height-for-age, and BMI-for-age were compared with those data from 1963 and 1993.

Results

Secular changes in height, weight and BMI were noted between 1963 and 1993 and between 1993 and 2005/6. In the latter period, greater changes were observed at younger ages, and particularly in boys. On an annual basis, the 1993–2005/6 changes were less than those during 1963–1993. Using the International Obesity Task Force cut-offs, 16.7% of children were overweight or obese in 2005/6, which was a 5.1% increase since 1993.

Conclusion

These data provide policy-makers with further evidence of the secular changes in child growth and the increasing obesity epidemic among Hong Kong children.